Comics about mathematics, science, and the student life.

Typographical Miss

Student: "Wow, I can't believe the author added so many problems that differ by a single number. Some poor souls are going to do the wrong one for the assignment." (Half an hour later) "Damn it!"

As you might imagine, this is definitely based on a true story. I mean come on, the problem was identical to the previous, save one number.

Question Period

Professor: "...and that completes the proof. Any questions?" (Three microseconds later) "Okay great, let's move on!"

“You just told me I had to give the students a chance to ask questions, not that they actually needed to!”

Usual Approximations

Professor: "Since this class has both a mathematics and physics course code, I made two tests."

“Basically, I know you mathematicians enjoy solving the more general case, so I figured you would like the challenge!”

Data Generators

Researcher 1: "So Professor, how are the experiments coming along?" Researcher 2: "Not so great. The data generators are dreadfully slow." R1: "The data generators... Wait, are you talking about your grad students?" R2: "Isn't that what I said?"

“I don’t think that’s the correct term to use-“

“Okay fine, the data farmers are slow. Happy now?”

Temporary Amnesia

Professor: "Welcome to your first 'real' course in mathematics! If you thought proofs were basically an exercise in saying, 'Let's temporarily pretend we don't know what the answer will be,' well you were correct."

The difficultly with proofs at first is that you’re required to show things that feel obvious. A good proof should provide an explanation for something which isn’t clear. Unfortunately, when you start proving divisibility rules, there’s a limit to how much insight you get from the proof.

Semester Cycle

A diagram describing the knowledge a person has as they go through a course. The curve steadily rises, with bumps at both midterms and a surge near the final exam. Then, there's a sheer cliff once the final is over in which students lose most of their knowledge.

This is something I worry about a lot when learning. It’s why I try to teach and write about the topics I’m learning in order to push away that cliff.

Toy Theory

Presentation slide describes the research as being a model which is 246-dimensional, with three flavours of time, and lots of turtles. Researcher: "As you can see, my work promises to shed light on many outstanding problems in physics." Audience member: "But can your model even describe reality?" Researcher: "Oh of course not. It's just a toy model! But it might bring us insights for our universe, so it's worth funding."

I understand the need for basic research, but I sometimes wonder how many different toy theories and models we really need.


Student 1: "I can't believe it! My professor went rogue and made their own problems!" Student 2: "I didn't even know that could happen." S1: "How am I supposed to find the solutions online now?"

The eternal struggle: teacher finds new problems, and students react by combing every centimetre of the web for the solutions.

Simple Result

Student: "Pi!? I went through five pages of integrals, algebra, and coordinate transformations to get only this?" Caption: I often have to take the long way before I realize there was probably a faster way.

As one of my professors used to say, “When you’re solving a problem, it doesn’t matter if your proof is messy, convoluted, or entirely unnecessary. If you’re using logic correctly, then it’s fine.”

Labyrinthine Sentence

Researcher reacting to editing suggestions: "What do you mean, my sentence is too long and has too many commas?! You're supposed to use them like parentheses." Caption: After working with nested parentheses for most of their lives, a mathematician or scientist can navigate a labyrinthine sentence with the ease of Theseus.

When a single sentence begins to have its own subplots and narrative structure, you’re probably going overboard.