San Francisco 2014
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Calling all arithmophiles

by Alan Briggs on November 10th, 2014

Math has always been its own language; you either learn it and speak it, or you don’t. Perhaps like any language, speaking math means you dream in math, you think in math, you tell jokes in math.

Throughout much of my early schooling, the number of people that liked math—that really got math—was relatively small. As time went on, the gap widened. By the time I got to graduate school, I feel like the only people who really communicated the same way were fellow students. Away from the department, nobody really understood what I did. My friends, my family, random strangers in public all politely feigned interest but secretly tuned me out as soon as I started talking about my work.

When thousands of people who all speak the same uncommon language descend upon a single destination, there’s a palpable comradery that just can’t be found anywhere else. I’m sure one of you dreamed about a near-optimal solution for seeing everything at the conference you intended to. Or maybe, like my friends and me, you laughed about the naïve inventory policy that’s obviously in place at a local restaurant. And, no doubt, several of you believe you’ve cleverly improved in your head the elevator queuing algorithm that has left lines of people impatiently waiting to get to their next activity. It’s fun to be with like-minded people and it’s even more fun to be with so many.

That’s what I’m enjoying about this conference.

1 Comment
  1. Walt DeGrange permalink

    So what is your favorite math joke?

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