Comics about mathematics, science, and the student life.

Excited

A professor presents a problem in class, and talks so fast that all of their words jumble together.

This might sound like a rare problem, but it happens more than you might think. In particular, I see it when professors start rattling off long theorems that they know by heart.

Obscure

A researcher tries to find a citation for an obscure paper on a search engine and can't find any results.

“My field is so niche that even the search engines have no idea what I’m typing in!”

Thermodynamic Relations

Step one: buy alphabet soup, both in Latin and Greek format. Step two: roll a multi-sided die which encodes various mathematical operations. Combine as necessary to find a thermodynamic relation.

“I should be able to turn this into some kind of machine learning algorithm.”

Sets

Two students stand in a messy office. The friend can't believe there's such a mess, but the other student says there's only one item: the set of items to clean up.

“I really shouldn’t have given you that book on set theory…”

Process

A training schedule for a runner is shown, with the run required for each day. At the end, a race is marked. This is the difference between the important part (the training) and the results (the race). The same is true if you replace "race" by "grades".

Changing your perspective from one of “getting good grades” to one of “understanding concepts deeply” is probably the best thing you can do for your education.

Recall

A professor stands at the board and asks students to recall a previous theorem. The truth is that this is often done on faith, since students don't remember the result.

“I’m sure you all remember how to prove this result.”

Pseudowork

The first panel shows a researcher thinking about new problems to solve. The second panel shows them searching online in order to ask for citations. Work versus pseudowork.

I can kind of understand why people do this, but really, it’s not the work you should be spending your precious time on.

Probabilistic Multiple Choice

A student thinks about the multiple choice question they have, and reasons using Bayes' theorem that it can't be A, so the answer must be B.

It’s amazing the amount of “bad” answers you can eliminate just by using the fact that your teacher is making a test.

One Up

Two students compare how much studying they do as if the more hours one studies, the better they are.

Personally, I enjoy being able to say I study less than others.

Fooling Ourselves

A student finishes a section of their workout slower than expected, but asks their coach to let them run faster. The coach decides that somehow they should be able to run faster, even though it's clear they won't.

Nothing gets me more fired up than those who ignore the fact that students move on in mathematics when they aren’t ready.