Comics about mathematics, science, and the student life.

Loss Landscape of Academia

An energy landscape depicting various academic activities. The "Important work" is at the global minimum, but there are many other local minima, including "Fancy positions", "'High-impact' journals", "Prestige", "Funding", and "Awards".

It’s good to check every once in a while that you aren’t stuck in a local minimum.


Flow diagram. On the left, "Simple thing I want to say". There are two arrows pointing away from it. The first box is "Requires few equations", and there's an annotation "I love math!". The second box is "Needs a ton of equations", and there's an annotation "Math is so annoying".

This is how I feel about many computer science papers. Such simple ideas, but the notation and equations are so cryptic.

Difficulty Level

A bad graph with three categories, with the vertical axis being the level of difficulty. The first bar is "Doing the science". The second bar, at about the same height, is "Writing the paper". The final bar, which goes way off the page, is "Formatting, compiling, and submitting to a journal".

You would think that this should be painless. But no, despite our civilizational advances, this is still a pain.

Project Cycle

A diagram with two concepts: "Begin a project" and "End a project", with arrows connecting both in an endless cycle. There's a break in the arrow from "End a project" to "Begin a project" which says, "Take a break and celebrate".

The highs in science are often short-lived, so make sure to give yourself the time to celebrate. You will have plenty of time to start a new project and be stuck in frustration again!


A scientist walks with her daughter. The daughter asks, "Mom, do you just solve more difficult questions than I do at school?" The scientist replies, "No dear, I also write long reports asking for money to solve them."

“And honestly, the equations I use for my work are simpler than yours.”

Working Hard

A person walks in an erratic way, not getting anywhere in particular. The panel is an overhead view of this path, which resembles a random walk. The person says, "I don't know where I'm going, but at least I'm working hard!"

Busywork is not the same as work that helps you achieve your goals.

Fan Mail

Scientist One brings in a sack and puts it in front of Scientist Two. Scientist One: "Here's your fan mail for your new paper." Scientist Two: "Sweet!" Scientist One: "They are all variations on 'Please cite me.'"

Normally, I’d be mad about you checking out my mail. But on second thought, could you also sort through it a bit?


Left: A series of images about science. A matrix of values, a person thinking, a lattice, a telescope, a flask, and two scientists high-fiving. (Caption: The real science) Right: A scientific paper which is the output of all this work. (Caption: What people see)

Let’s never forget that it’s a human activity, not a bunch of papers.


Note to self: You've gotten trapped in this science problem before. Do NOT let yourself get trapped again. Love, yourself. Signed: 2021-07-21 (crossed out), 2021-08-30 (crossed out), 2021-10-15 (crossed out), 2021-11-03.

This is my New Year’s resolution. I will stick to it!

Terminal Experience

Three scientists, with the more terminal experience as you go to the right. Left scientist: "My browser history is only StackOverflow." Middle scientist: "I'm pretty sure this won't damage my computer..." Right scientist: "I don't trust GUIs."

Unfortunately, I’m between the left and the middle.