Comics about mathematics, science, and the student life.


A graph of "Improving my writing" versus "Staring at it". The curve initially increases, then plateaus and crashes back down to zero. There's a label pointing to when the curve is going downwards that says, "Need fresh eyes".

This is also why it’s good to have someone you can share your writing with as you’re revising so that they can see things you will never be able to see from such a close vantage point.


A graph of "Time spent editing an email" versus "Care for recipient". The curve increases roughly like a quadratic function.

And as a corollary, the length of the email tends to decrease with editing. (As with this quote that inspired the comic.)

Tech Issues

A woman from IT says, "So after 10 hours of digging, I found the issue." The researcher says, "What did I do?" The IT worker answers, "Oh, it was an issue on our side." The researcher pumps her fist and exclaims, "Yes!" Caption: I'm always relieved when IT tells me my issue wasn't my fault.

But honestly, the issue is usually me.


On the left, there's a large circle with the label "What you say in a presentation". On the left is a much smaller circle with the label "What people remember".

The fun part is that you often can’t control what that memorable part will be.

Conference Attendance

A graph of "Attendance" versus "Time of day" for a conference. In the morning, there's the start of sessions, followed by a mad rush of people trying to not be too late, leading to a sharp increase in attendance. It stays high for a while until dipping downward due to a lunch exodus, but there's still a contingent of committed attendees who power through. After lunch, attendance picks up again as there are more sessions, only to steadily decline as people are too tired to listen anymore.

This happens on a macro level too: As I attend more days of a conference, I lose the initial stamina I had to listen to many presentations.


Two friends are talking. One asks, "So, do you want to jump on this opportunity with me?" He gestures behind him to a large creature with a name tag that says 'Sunk Costs' and tells her, "I would, but I need to take care of this guy."

“He’s my number-one priority, you know.”

How to Cook With Quantum

Panel 1 (Find a laptop with a smooth base.): A laptop upside down, with an arrow pointing to the base which says, "Metal preferred". Panel 2 (Load your favourit quantum simulation*.): A researcher at her laptop says, "I'm feeling like some random quantum circuits today." *Must be inefficient classically. Panel 3 (Set N to be about 22.): A Python program with the simulation for 22 qubits. Panel 4 (Wait a few seconds for your laptop to accept its fate. Now, you have a hot plate!): The researcher stands at her desk with a frying pan on top of her laptop and says, "Who knew my research was so applicable?"

This is going in my next grant application.

(Hat tip to Andrea Morello for the inspiration.)

Calculation Path

A very winding path from A to B, representing how I do a calculation. Then there's a straight connection between A and B, representing how everyone else does it.

Just once, I’d like to be the one finding the quick way!

Sliver of Context

A one-dimensional line indicating the time of day. There's a small sliver in the middle that represents the time you interact with students as a coach or a teacher. The other much larger parts you never see.

I try to remember this whenever I’m tempted to get frustrated with athletes or students. I’m only privy to a small slice of their life, so I’m likely missing the surrounding context.

Growth in Safety

A graph of "Potential to grow" versus "Feeling of safety". With little safety, there's zero potential for growth. It's only after a minimum amount of safety does the potential for growth increase quickly.

When I lead, this is one of my core responsibilities.

(Hat tip to Kiera for inspiring this graph!)