Math and Number Quotations


Apply shampoo to wet hair. Massage to lather, then rinse. Repeat.
– An infinite loop hair-washing algorithm –

I have a simple algorithm, which is, wherever you see paid researchers instead of grad students, that’s not where you want to be doing research.
– Larry Page –

I know how models are built, because I build them myself, so I know that I’m embedding my values into every single algorithm I create and I am projecting my agenda onto those algorithms.
– Cathy O’Neil –

Nothing will ever replace the experience of wandering haphazardly through a great bookstore, no matter how many algorithms are developed to find matches for our tastes. That’s because not only is there no accounting for taste, there is no predicting it either.
– Dominique Browning –

Someone from the Internet Writing Workshop sent me a link to the Gender Genie, where you paste in a section of text and it uses an algorithm to detect whether the author is male or female. Or, if you’re an author, you can tell whether you’re really nailing your opposite-sex characters. I mean, nailing their dialog.
– Max Barry –

The crucial problem isn’t creating new jobs. The crucial problem is creating new jobs that humans perform better than algorithms.
– Yuval Noah Harari, Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow –

The Facebook algorithm designers chose to let us see what our friends are talking about. They chose to show us, in some sense, more of the same. And that is the design decision that they could have decided differently. They could have said, “We’re going to show you stuff that you’ve probably never seen before.” I think they probably optimized their algorithm to make the most amount of money, and that probably meant showing people stuff that they already sort of agreed with, or were more likely to agree with.
– Cathy O’Neil –

The next question is how? How does news find us? What you need is a certain critical literacy about the fact that you are almost always subject to an algorithm. The most powerful thing in your world now is an algorithm about which you know nothing about.
– Kelly McBride –

There is no algorithm for creativity.
– Andy Hargreaves –

There is no Algorithm for Humor
– Robert Mankoff –

We don’t let a car company just throw out a car and start driving it around without checking that the wheels are fastened on. We know that would result in death; but for some reason we have no hesitation at throwing out some algorithms untested and unmonitored even when they’re making very important life-and-death decisions.
– Cathy O’Neil –

General Math

The Quippery

4 out of 3 people struggle with math.
– Sign on a T-shirt –

A mathematician is a blind man in a dark room looking for a black cat which isn’t there.
– Charles Darwin –

As long as algebra is taught in school, there will be prayer in school.
– Cokie Roberts –

A rubber band pistol was confiscated from algebra class because it was a weapon of math disruption.
– Author Unknown –

A talking sheepdog got all the sheep in the pen, then told the farmer “All 40 accounted for.”
“But I only have 36 sheep,” said the farmer.
“I know,” said the sheepdog. “But I rounded them up.”
– Reader’s Digest –

Calvin: Help me with this homework, OK? What’s 6+3?
Hobbes: 6+3, eh? First we call the answer “Y” as in “Y do we care?” Now Y may be a square number, so we’ll draw a square and make this side 6 and that side 3. Then we’ll measure the diagonal.
Calvin: I don’t remember the teacher explaining it like this.
Hobbes: She probably doesn’t know higher math. When you deal with high numbers, you need higher math.
Calvin: But this diagonal is just a little under two.
Hobbes: OK, here, I’ll draw a bigger square.
– Bill Watterson, Calvin and Hobbes –

Dear Algebra,
Please stop asking us to find your X. She’s never coming back and don’t ask Y.
– Sign on a chalk board –

Don’t discuss infinity with a mathematician. You’ll never hear the end of it.
– Author Unknown –

Equations are the devil’s sentences.
– Stephen Colbert –

Fibonacci. It’s as easy as 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, …
– Numerous Authors –

Fig Newton: The force required to accelerate a fig 39.37 inches per sec.
– J. Hart –

Q: How do mathematicians scold their children?
A: “If I’ve told you n times, I’ve told you n+1 times…
– Reader’s Digest –

How I see math word problems:
Question: If you have 4 pencils and 7 apples, how many pancakes will fit on the roof?
Answer: Purple, because aliens don’t wear hats.
– Author Unknown –

I heard that parallel lines actually do meet, but they are very discrete.
– Author Unknown –

I know that two and two make four – and should be glad to prove it too if I could – though I must say if by any sort of process I could convert 2 and 2 into five it would give me much greater pleasure.
– George Gordon, Lord Byron –

It’s easy to identify people who can’t count to 10. They’re in front of you in the supermarket express lane.
– M. Grundler –

Life without geometry is pointless.
– Author Unknown –

Mathematics is like childhood diseases. The younger you get it, the better.
– Arnold Sommerfeld –

Mathematics teachers call retirement ‘the aftermath’.
– Author Unknown –

Math – the only place where people can buy 64 watermelons and no one wonders why.
– –

Not everything that counts can be counted. Not everything that can be counted counts.
– Albert Einstein –

Old mathematicians never die; they just lose some of their functions.
– Reader’s Digest –

Skinner’s Constant – that quantity which, when multiplied by, divided by, added to or subtracted from the answer you get, gives you the answer you should have gotten.
– Author Unknown –

Some mathematicians are reluctant to cosine a loan.
– Author Unknown –

Stand firm in your refusal to remain conscious during algebra. In real life, I assure you, there is no such thing as algebra.
– Fran Lebowitz –

The New York City Department of Education says that only 26 percent of the city’s students in grades three through eight passed the English portion on a recent standardized test. But on the bright side, they’re too bad at math to realize how bad that is.
– Jimmy Fallon –

The trouble with integers is that we have examined only the very small ones. Maybe all the exciting stuff happens at really big numbers, ones we can’t even begin to think about in any very definite way. Our brains have evolved to get us out of the rain, find where the berries are, and keep us from getting killed. Our brains did not evolve to help us grasp really large numbers or to look at things in a hundred thousand dimensions.
– Ronald L. Graham –

Think of a number between 0 and 20. Add 32 to it. Multiply by 2. Subtract 1. Now close your eyes. It’s dark, isn’t it!?
– Author Unknown –

Today’s scientists have substituted mathematics for experiments, and they wander off through equation after equation, and eventually build a structure which has no relation to reality.
– Nikola Tesla –

Trigonometry is a sine of the times.
– Author Unknown –

Understanding binary is as easy as 1, 10, 11.
– Author Unknown –

We will prove this by the method of prolonged staring.
– Joel Franklin –

Q: What do you call a teapot of boiling water on top of mount Everest?
A: A high-pot-in-use
– Author Unknown –

What part of s = \sqrt{\frac{1}{N-1} \sum_{i=1}^N (x_i – \overline{x})^2} don’t you understand?
– Author Unknown –

With the Ark settled safely after the flood, Noah opened the doors and commanded the animals, “Go forth and multiply!”
All the animals departed, except for two snakes in the back. Noah asked them, “Why have you not followed my command?”
The snakes flicked their tongues and answered, “We can’t multiply, Noah, we’re Adders.”
– Reader’s Digest –


Is the glass half full, or half empty? It depends on whether you’re pouring, or drinking.
– Bill Cosby –

Some folks go through life pleased that the glass is half full. Others spend a lifetime lamenting that it’s half-empty. The truth is: There is a glass with a certain volume of liquid in it. From there, it’s up to you!
– Dr. James S. Vuocolo –

Some people see the glass half full. Others see it half empty. I see a glass that’s twice as big as it needs to be.
– George Carlin –

The algebraic simultaneous equation theorist says that if the glass is equally half full and half empty, then half full = half empty; therefore ½ x F = ½ x E; therefore (by multiplying both sides of the equation by 2) we show that F = E; i.e. Full equals Empty!
– –

The optimist says: “The glass is half-full.” The pessimist says: “The glass is half-empty”. And while they are arguing, the pragmatist takes the glass and drinks it.
– –

The professional trainer does not care if the glass is half full or half empty, he just knows that starting the discussion will give him ten minutes to figure out why his powerpoint presentation is not working.
– –

The scientist says a guess based on a visual cue is inaccurate, so mark the glass at the bottom of the meniscus of the content, pour the content into a bigger glass; fill the empty glass with fresh content up to the mark; add the original content back in; if the combined content overflows the lip, the glass was more than half full; if it doesn’t reach the top, the glass was more than half empty; if it neither overflows nor fails to reach the top then it was either half-full or half-empty. Now what was the question again?
– –


If two wrongs don’t make a right, try three.
– Author Unknown –

I suffer from entertaining anxiety… a fear that I can’t juggle the timing of three things alchemically transforming themselves in dangerously hot places.
– Dominique Browning –

People can be divided into three groups – those who make things happen, those who watch things happen and those who wonder what happened.
– John W. Newbern –

There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.
– Will Rogers –

The development of a new product is a three step process – first, an American firm announces an invention; second, the Russians claim they made the same discovery twently years ago; third, the Japanese start exporting it.
– Unknown –

There are three things I have learned never to discuss with people: religion, politics and the Great Pumpkin.
– Charles Schultz –

There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.
– Mark Twain –

There are three kinds of people in this world: those who are good at math and those who aren’t.
– Author Unknown –

Three phrases that sum up Christmas are: Peace on Earth, Goodwill to Men, and Batteries not Included.
– Unknown –

Trio, triple, thirds say three.
As do triad, ternion and trilogy,
Triptych, trine and trichotomy,
Triangle, treble and trinity.
– Margy –