Imagine this. My friend Tanya Khovanova won the International Math Olympics. Twice. She is also a comedic math writer and an evangelic promoter of Recreational Math – something which combines a giggle with a Prime Number. She works at MIT.
She won those Gold Medals back when she was representing her home country of Russia, but she has long been here in the States. She was in a writing group I was running when she decided to start a math blog and asked me to work on it with her as her editor. We have an unusual set-up. We sit side-by-side reading through her pieces and I correct them with the editing software Track Changes.
Since math is a language I know nothing about, we are forced to work until her complicated high-level concepts are sufficiently comprehensible to me that I can edit them. As a result, her genius posts, meant for other mathematicians and students of math, have unusual clarity. Two changes have happened. First, she has absorbed all of my editing advice so that she needs me less and less. Second, I’m now steeped in the world of coin problems, integrals, finite groups, sequences, and, most of all, math jokes.
Tanya is a hoot. Here are a few of her jokes.
Twelve different world statisticians studied Russian roulette. Ten of them proved that it is perfectly safe. The other two scientists were unfortunately unable to join the final discussion.
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Do you know a statistics joke?
Probably, but it's mean!
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A traffic policeman stops a car:
—You’re going 70 in a 35 miles-per-hour zone.
—But there are two of us!
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The most popular tweet, "Live your life so that you do not have time for social networks."
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Recently Tanya’s writing was included in The Best Writing on Mathematics 2014. This is truly an achievement, considering that English is not her first language. In announcing this honor, she wrote an interesting short piece about her long reluctance to write (“Writing in English is easier for me than writing in Russian because when I make a mistake, I have an excuse.”). She generously mentions our work together. I recommend you check this out – and check out her blog altogether.