Friday, December 14, 2007

Q: Why did the mathematician name his dog "Cauchy?" A: Because he left a residue at every pole. Mystery Mathematician #3 Revealed!

What does that say about me that I am amused by that famous pun in the title of this post! Cauchy has always been a favorite of mine and his famous Integral Formula has blighted the youth of many young mathematicians in their Complex Analysis course! I recall one of my high school colleagues annually wearing a T-shirt with this formula imprinted on it on the day of the math finals. I don't believe it gave away any answers to her students!

Anyhow, we did have two winners in this week's contest. I intentionally did not announce this edition of the contest in a post as I wanted to see who would notice the new image in the sidebar! BTW, I certainly didn't expect my Technorati rating or Social Ranking to spike because of this and I was not disappointed!


Here are TC's 'punny' comments:

Hi Dave,

It is not as if you had exhausted most others that you had to pick a
'residual' mathematician :-)

I first thought it might be L'Hospital.

Interesting anecdote:

Lagrange advised Cauchy's father that his son should obtain a good
grounding in languages before starting a serious study of mathematics.

Here's Lynx's comment/anecdote about Monsieur Cauchy:

The mathematician is Augustin-Louis Cauchy.

A quote by him (courtesy of [Regarding √(-1)]: ... we can repudiate completely and which we can abandon without regret because one does not know what this pretended sign signifies nor what sense one ought to attribute to it.
Said in 1847

Also, according to Agnesi to Zeno Over 100 Vignettes from the History of Math by Sanderson Smith, he was a teacher at the Ecole Polytechnique. While Evariste Galois was trying to gain admission, Cauchy lost a paper written by the young man.

He was a staunch Catholic and, according to the Catholic Encyclopedia ( During the famine of 1846 in Ireland Cauchy made an appeal to the pope on behalf of the stricken people.

According to this website (, Cauchy delayed the publication of Niels Abel's masterpiece because Abel called him a bigoted Catholic.

Okay, that's enough. I'm done researching for now. Thanks for an evening of entertainment.


Eric Jablow said...

Okay. Time for a classic pole-ish joke.

Two men stood at the wreckage of a commercial plane crash on the outskirts of Warsaw, Poland.

"It looks like the plane was doing fine until it was ten kilometers from the airport; then it went into a flat spin. It couldn't recover. Do you have any ideas, Professor?"

"I am not sure. Have you found the black box yet?"

"They just found it."

"I'll need to listen to the cockpit recording."

An hour later, the investigator and the engineering professor were at the offices of the Accident Review Board. The investigator turned to the lab tech, and said "Okay. Play the last ten minutes of the flight." The tech hit a switch, and they listened to nine minutes of cockpit chatter. Then, they heard the captain speak the following:

"Ladies and gentlemen, we are about ten kilometers from the airport, but because of high volume we will be forced to circle for a while. However, this gives me an opportunity to point out the local area. You can begin to see the buildings of Warsaw from the staqrboard side of the plane. Please feel free to get up and look."

There was fifteen seconds of silence from the tape, and then they heard an alarm from it. They stood in silence as the pilot and copilot tried to bring regain control of the plane, only to fail.

"The fools."

"What is it, Professor?"

"The fools should have known that any dynamical system becomes unstable when you have Poles on the right side of the plane!"

Dave Marain said...

I love it, Eric, and I can't top that!

Totally_Clueless said...

On a similar vein:

There was this pilot who used to fly a Cessna between Gdansk and some of the smaller cities in Poland. One day, two guys decide to hijack the plane, and want to get out of the country to the USA. The pilot tells them the small plane will not make it, and they need a larger craft. The hijackers make him fly into Warsaw airport and commandeer a 767, get the pilot into the cockpit and tell him to fly it to the US. The pilot looks around the cockpit and there are dials everywhere, many, many more than he is used to seeing. He keeps staring at them for a while, at which point the hijackers get impatient and tell him to get on with it. To which he replies, "Relax guys, I am just a simple pole in a complex plane!"

Dave Marain said...

Ok, Eric, are you getting any 'residuals' from these puns!

Actually, I think it's time to 'morph' into a 'Mero XMAS' and sing 'O HoloMorphic Night'.
I think I better stop now...

Dave Marain said...

sorry, tc!
I didn't notice that last hysterical anecdote was yours...

Totally_Clueless said...

Actually, Eric's joke can be evolved into a party/parlor puzzler (of course, the party has to be for nerds/geeks like us :-)):

An aircraft is flying over Europe and is on a steady course in calm skies. One of the passengers sitting on the left side of the aircraft gets up to go to the bathroom. Finding the bathroom occupied, he wanders over to the right side to take a look out of the window. Suddenly, the plane goes into a tailspin and crashes, leaving no survivors. What is the nationality of the passenger?