A Set
of
Mathematical
Equivoques
For better or worse these “definitions” are my own creation. Undoubtedly my tilted point of view comes from years of working crossword puzzles and from a general passion for words and wordplay. I am writing this material with the hope of entertaining some kindred spirits and with the hope of planting a few seeds of the wonderful culture of mathematics into the imagination of students here and there. Over time I will continue to fill in with more “?” marks denoting the availability of explanations and links that I hope will make this site more useful, especially to students.
Comments? Contributions? Corrections? You can email them to me at ksuman@winona.edu.
Ken Suman
Initially Posted on 8/12/2006, Lasted Edited on 4/15/2015.
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W XYZ
A Click on the ? marks
for more details.
Abelian – 10^{9}
or 10^{12} depending on whether you studied math or maths at school 

Abscissa – a person who is self
absorbed with their abs 

Absolute Geometry – geometry that
doesn’t play fair 

Absolute
Value – nonnegotiable price 

Absorbing
State – “You
can check in any time you like, but
you can never leave.” 

Abundant Number – a lot 

Acceptance
Sampling – launching a trial balloon 

Acousmatic – someone who is
quick to point fingers 

Adding Machine – a good summer 

Additive Identity – alias 

Adèle Group – the Astaire’s 

Adenine – nucleotide that
takes 1 to 10 

Adiabatic Law – always monitor
your glucose level 

Affine
Variety – what a good store carries 

Agonic – someone who lives
in the past 

Airport Problem – when you lose your
in flight internet connection 

Alethic – stout 

Alexander
Polynomial
– Iksander,
Richard Burton, Colin Farrell, but apparently not Leonardo DiCaprio 

ALGOL – what Julius
Caesar divided into three parts 

Aliorelative – onion 

Aliter – a little more than
a quart 

Aliquot – “float like a butterfly,
sting like a bee” 

Allegory – Tipper’s husband
when in Rome 

Almost Everywhere – where kudzu grows 

Almost Surely – Shirley 

Alternating Group – Animagi 

Alternation – Vatican City 

Amenable Group – The Beatles 

Amicable Pair – good friends 

Amphibology – switch
pitching 

Analemma Curve – slant eight 

Anallagmatic – Wrangler blue
jeans 

Analysis – denouement 

Analysis
of Variance – psychotherapy 

Analytic
Geometry – creole 

Annealing – genuflecting 

Annihilator
– “weapon of math destruction” 

Annulus – what the unhappy couple asked the priest to do 

Ansatz – A ‘Convenient’ Truth 

Anticlastic – indivisible 

Anticomplement – a disparaging word 

Antinomy – what’s added to
textiles to make them flame retardant (and carcinogenic?) 

Antipode – an acrobat who
juggles with their feet 

Antiset – flavoring for those
delicious Italian cookies 

Antitone – ‘ill conditioned’ 

a Partite Graph – government
corruption in South Africa between 1948 and 1994 

Apeiron – what Oprah did on The Late Show 

Apex – 16
gallons 

Apothem – what the bluetick pup treed 

Apotome – The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe, 17 volumes, James Harrison, editor 

Arbelos – where the pirate
said the supplies were 

Arcuate – without error 

Arithmetic Geometry – Arithmetic on the Frontier 

Arrow of Time – an anachronism 

Arrow’s Impossibility
Theorem –
what goes up must come down (assuming we ignore the potential effect of dark
energy and trees) 

Astroid – a tag for Elroy’s
dog 

Asymptote – how the farmer got
his lame donkey home 

Automorphic Form – hardtop
convertible 

Autoregression – PT Cruiser 

Autos Epha – carpeter (carpet layer) 

Average – to bid farewell to
the anger within 

Axiom of Choice – The Importance
of Being ‘Ernst’ 

Axis – sacks 

B Click on the ? marks
for more details.
Back Substitution – artificial disk
replacement 

Baire Category – ursine breed 

Baire Space – ‘polar plot’ 

Ballot
Problem – rigged election 

Bandit
Problems – when DoD money dries up for consulting inside the beltway 

Barber’s
Paradox – stylist’s knot 

Basel Problem – skin cancer 

Basin of
Attraction – the bathroom sink 

Bayes’
Rule – wash the tub after each use 

Beat the Dealer – Military Commissions Act provision for
getting information out of Afghan opium traffickers 



Bematist Goal – pari passu In the time of Alexander the Great (356 BC –
323 BC) surveyors were trained in the skill of maintaining a fixed length
pace, a bema (βήμα),
over long distances. The bema was the distance between successive
steps and was roughly two and a half feet.
These human pedometers were called bematists and were able to stay
within 1/100 of a bema with each
step! It is a persistent legend that Eratosthenes (276 BC – 194 BC) hired bematists to measure
the distance from Alexandria to Syene as part of
his famous effort to determine the size of the Earth. This story is beautifully told in the
children’s book The Librarian Who
Measured the Earth by Kathryn Lasky and is
definitely worth reading by “kids” of all ages. The Romans, in contrast to the Greeks,
defined a pace (Latin passus)
as the distance that would bring a land surveyor (Latin agrimensore) back to the same
foot (i.e. roughly five feet). Pari is Latin
for “equal” and thus the phrase pari passu translates literally from the Latin as “equal
pace”. Putting this together, we have that the goal
of a bematist (Greek) is to maintain an equal pace, which is the literal
translation of the (Latin) phrase pari passu. Pari passu is now used as a legal
phrase with the general meaning of “on equal footing”. The phrase is also used in finance with the
meaning “at the same rate”. e.g. All creditors will be
treated pari passu. Incomes for middle class and wealthy
families were not increasing pari passu. The equating of these Greek and Latin phrases
apparently has no historical basis.
But that is okay as there is a word for such invented linguistic miscegenations
– it’s called macaronic. And as any Italian
restaurateur will tell you, the best way to top off a meal of macaroni like
this is with a slice of pari passu, that delicious
Italian dessert made with mascarpone cheese.
But then that would be a malapropism
and that’s another story altogether. Fortunately, linguists will forgive all if
you say it with a big enough smile. 

Benford’s Law – “One is the likeliest number
that you’ll ever know. Two is not as
likely as one, but it’s the likeliest number since the number one.” 

Bias – the two words
parents hear most on the cereal aisle 

Bicorn – an option at the
Merc 

Bicursal – the ability to swear in two languages 

BigEndian,
LittleEndian
– Much Ado About Nothing 

Big M
Method – product bundling 

Big O
Notation – Oscar Robertson’s number 

Bing
Sling – a highball with a cherry 

Binit – when you’ve had
your turn in tag 

Biplot – selecting your
final retirement location 

Birthday
Problem – old age 

Block Scheduling – filibuster 

BLUE – bummed 

Bonnet Net – snood 

Borda Count – 2(A – I +1) when in Boston 

Boundary Condition – terminal case 

Braneworld – “There is a fifth
dimension, beyond that which is known to man.” 

Brownian
Motion – when a Girl Scout moves to recess 

Butterfly
Effect – Because a Little Bug
Went Kachoo! 

Butterfly Effect – Psyched 

C Click on the ? marks
for more details.
Calculemus – Machiavellian motto 

Calculus – the Flintstone’s
daughter 

Canard Solution – Duck Soup 

Canonical Analysis – weapons inspection 

Cantor Dust – what a horse kicks
up 

Cantor’s Middle Third
Set –
second of an hazan’s three part performance 

Cardinal Characteristic – bright red cassock
and zucchetto 

Carnap Rule – never wake a baby
who has fallen asleep in a car seat 

Casting Out Nines – pitching your niblicks 

Catenary – without even a
hint of malice or spite 

Catenoid – what you get if you
grab a tiger by the tail 

Cattle Problem – BSE 

Centroids – Emperor Palpatine’s (a.k.a.
Darth Sidious) strategy for invading Naboo 

Ceteris Paribus – Elsie the Cow 

Cheney’s Card Trick – WHIG 

Chudnovsky Brothers – piquant 

Church’s Thesis – God exists 

Cissoid – an impolite way to
describe your elder sister 

Clinure – the two words kids
hear most re their room 

Cliques – Ska Geeks, Metalheads, Goths,
Punks, … 

Closed Function – a private party 

Clustering Illusion – apophenia 

Cochain – what Joe Paterno is known for 

Cofactor – someone faking a
cold 

Cofinal – what you have when
students collude on the end of term exam 

Collatz Problem – when pages of your
exam are out of order 

Column Space – stoa 

Combinatorics on Words – magnetic poetry 

Common Knowledge – heard throughout
the dining hall 

Commutative Group – carpoolers 

Commutator – a spudnik 

Complement of a Set – best wishes to the
newlyweds 

Complete Pivoting – an aboutface 

Completing the Square – The Princess Diaries 

Complex Analysis – study connecting
guilt, inferiority, God, persecution, martyrs and nice guys 

Complex Numbers – Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3, Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 2,
Liszt’s Transcendental Etude No. 5,
and Chopin’s Etude No. 1, Op.10. 

Complex Plane – the F22A Raptor 

Comprehensive Exam – day of reckoning 

Conic Section – where Dilbert
lives 

Conjunction – The Joint 

Construction Tools – Erector Set 

Continued Fraction – an ongoing part 

Contour Map – what tourists use
at Alcatraz 

Contrapositive – Oliver North’s
point of view 

Control Group – Agents 86 and 99,
Chief, Larabee and Hymie 

Cook’s Theorem – “the proof of the
pudding is in the eating” 

Coprimes – bop, hop, lop,
mop, pop, sop, top, … 

Corner Test – an autopsy 

Correlation Implies
Causation
– cum hoc, ergo propter hoc 

Coset – Jean Valjean’s daughter 

Cossic Art – pysanky 

Countability of the Rationals – "Everyone is crazy except you and me … and
sometimes I wonder about you." 

Critical Path – Main Street 

Critical Point – exigency 

Cross Product – double cross 

Crunode – Bordeaux 

CSpace – an ocean 

Curve of Constant
Width –
spotting everyone the same number of points 

Cylinder – what the revenuer
asked the bootlegger 

D Click on the ? marks
for more details.
Damped
Sine – sine die 

Data Mining – planting a nihilartikel 

Data Snooping – what Sherlock
Holmes does 

Decanting Problems – what Socrates,
Martin Luther, Giordano Bruno and Galileo Galilei had 

Decimal System – Powers of Ten 

Degenerate Locus – a real boor 

Degree Sequence – Bachelor’s, Master’s,
Ph.D. 

Deleted Neighborhood – aftereffect of an urban
renewal project 

Demand Curve – what students
often do 

Dequeue – ice cream parlor 

Deranged Permutations – ‘mental
mathematics’ 

De Revolutionibus – the VW Splittie 

Diagnostic – Pat Robinson’s war cry 

Diagonally – where
Harry Potter shops 

Diameter – a vending machine that eats dimes 

Didactic Numbers – Take It to the Limit (Eagles), Operator (Jim Croce), Circle (Harry Chapin), Revolution (Beatles) 

Digital
Computer – a Chisenbopper 

Digital Root – toe hold 

Digon – typical problem
with board games 

Directed Graph – organized crime 

Disquisitiones – The Bee Gees,
Donna Summer, KC and the Sunshine Band … 

Divisible – when the gaming cube is in sight 



DNA Computers – ‘genetic
algorithms’ 

Dot Product – husband 

Double Blind – taking an eye for
an eye 

Double Blind – turning on your
bright lights in retaliation 

Double Dot – peridot 

Double Edged Ruler – benevolent
dictator 

Double Negative
Elimination
– when it’s two strikes and you’re out 

Doubling the Cube – what you do in
backgammon to squeeze your opponent out 

Dual Space – field of honor 

Dunnett's Test – a quiz to see who has done their homework 

Dyad – what TiVo lets you say to commercials 

Dyscalculia – Why Johnny Can’t Add 

E Click on the ? marks
for more details.
Elementary Row
Operation
– feathering 

Enqueue – Are You Being Served ? 

Epistemic
Justification
– American Pie 

Epols – run over the rise 

Equals – online qualifying
exams 

Equant – mathematical
financier who works online 

Error
Correcting Code – the “you break it, you own it” rule 

Escher’s Ascending and Descending – going Up the Down Staircase 

Essential Supremum – theism 

Euler – Jiffy
Lube employee 

Euler
Criteria – every 3 months or 3000 miles 

Euler
Line – slippery slope 

Eversion – online adaptation 

Evil Twin Strategy – designing a spoof WiFi hot spot with the intent of intercepting sensitive
data 

Evolutionary
Operation
– phylogenetic systematics 

Existence Theorem – cogito, ergo sum 

Existential
Quantifier – agnostic 

Explement – what it takes to be The Compleat ‘Angle’ 

Extraction of Roots – pulling teeth 

Extraneous Roots – outside sources 

F Click on the ? marks
for more details.
Fair
Division – proper fraction 

Fair Game – open
target 

Faltings’ Theorem – it’s easier to
find it than accept it 

Farey
Series – Tales of the Brothers
Grimm 

Fatigue Failure – when your army
pants wear out 

Feller Property – prostate gland 

Ferrari's Method – give it at least a
6 liter, 12 cylinder, 540 horsepower engine 

Fictitious Play – Springtime for Hitler 

Field Axioms – ground rules 

Field Extension – one way to make it a pitcher’s park 

Field’s
Medal – potassium 

Field
Theory – “If you build it, they will come.” 

Field Theory – agronomy 

Figurate
Numbers – 8, 88, 888, … 



Fisher’s Exact Test – a hanging scale 

Fisher Information – depth finder 

Fixed
Point – what a pencil sharpener gives you 

Flexagon – what happens when you get old 

Floor
Function – to “give me a place to stand” (pou sto) 

Floor
Function – to make sherry 

Fluid
Flow – a runny nose 

Focal
Cord – it vibrates to make sounds 

Forcing – new
suit bid by responder 

Formalist Mathematics – The Great Game 

Formally Real Field – Giant’s Stadium 

FORTRAN – what the general
did 

Fourier Series – a line of shoes
that comes in widths extra wide to extra narrow 

Four Squares Theorem – four squares a day
will soon make you round 

Free
Group – emancipated ones 

Freshman’s
Dream – a 4.0 

Frieze Pattern – snowflake 

Full Adder – Adderall 

Functional Analysis – a checkup 

Fundamental
Group – supporting the APA 

Fundamental Theorem
of Arithmetic
– the Great Divide 

Fuzzy Addition – dim sum 

G Click on the ? marks
for more details.
Game of Life – Samsara 

Game
Theory – rules of play 

Generated Field – A New Kind of Science 

Genetic Algorithms – Mr. Holland’s (Magnum) Opus 

Genetic Algorithms – ‘DNA computers’ 

Geoboard – weltschmerz 

Gibbs Sampling – Bee Gees : Number Ones 

GIMPS – Great
Internet Mathematical Pun Search 

Gnomon – first
rule at an all girls school 

God’s
Algorithm – stella octangula 

Goldbach Conjecture – (Copper, Silver,
Gold) maps to (Gödel, Escher, Bach) 

Golden Ratio – karat 

Goniometry – joint analysis 

Goodness
of Fit Test – trying on a new pair of shoes 

Gradient – your mother’s aunt 

Gradus Suavitatis – The Sound of Music 

Grasshopper Sequence – 28 (B.A.), 30 (M.A.),
34 (Ph.D.), 83 (Commodore), 85 (Admiral) 

Gray Code – 

Greatest Common
Divisor
– a wedge issue 

Great Paradox – the Mayo Brothers 

Grok Mathematics – “turn coffee into
theorems” 

Guthrie's Problem – fascism 

H Click on the ? marks
for more details.
Haar Function – to keep your head warm 

Habeas Corpus – The Texan’s Detain Law Massacre 

Hairy Ball Theorem – “If you’ve got a
taste for terror, then take Carrie to the prom.” 

HalfOpen – ajar 

Half Space – overtrick bonus
(points above the line) 

Half Space – en 

Halting
Problem – faulty brakes 

Harmonic
Number – a blues harp tune 

Harmonic Series – lick 

Heaviside
CoverUp Method – wearing loose fitting clothes 

Hero’s
Formula – rescue the damsel in distress, smile, wave 

Hexafoil – amulet 

Higher Arithmetic – celestial
reckoning 

Higher Arithmetic
Conference
– summit 

Hilary Term – 2008 – 2012 ? 

Hippopede – hoof 

Hitting Time – 16 or less 

Homaloidal Space – Flatland 

Homomorphism – reparative therapy
(see Nonstandard Analysis) 

Horner’s
Method – sticking a thumb in 

Horocycle – 12 

Hotel
Infinity – MGM Grand 

I Click on the ? marks
for more details.
i ^{i} – eye to eye 

i x i –
crosseyed 

2i – ogle 

5i – eye for an eye 

Ideal Class – “where everyone is above average” 

Ideal
Point – mot juste 

Idempotent – a powerful token 

Ill
Conditioned – ‘antitone’ 

Illegal Operation – medical malpractice 

IllPosed Problem – hidden faces in a group photo 

Imaginary Numbers – Fantasia
Mathematica 

Immanant – nomen ambiguum (re
immanent, imminent, eminent and emanant) 

Incircles – how we often run 

InclusionExclusion Principle – ACT/SAT scores 

Incomplete
Design –
adumbration 

Indeterminate Form – amorphous 

Infinite
Mean – Great Expectations 

Inspection
Paradox
– it usually takes longer than it usually takes 

Insphere – how too many people live 

Integration by Parts – gradual desegregation 

Integration by Substitution – forced busing 

Into
Mapping –
a cartographer 

Inverse
Probability – Probability seems to remain An idea I’ve yet to
attain. I was sure I played
right In my poker tonight, But my fortune it
went down the drain. 

Inversion – dernier cri 

Involution – contronym 

Ising Problem – being a note behind and a step offkey 

Iterated
Series –
reruns 

J Click on the ? marks
for more details.
Jordan Normal Form – just over 30 ppg 

K Click on the ? marks
for more details.


Kaprekar Number – Claudette Colbert (Ellie) shows off her leg 

Kernel – Blotto’s rank 

Kissing
Number – count your bussings 

Klein
Bottle – a small carafe 

Knapsack
Problem – a sleeping bag that’s too small 

Knot
Curve – straight 

Knot
Equivalence – difference 

Know It
All Number – 999 ! 
L Click on the ? marks
for more details.
Lah Number – six in the solfa 

L'Analyse des Infiniment Petits – nanotechnology 

Language of
Arithmetic
– Adder’s Tongue 



LatticeOrdered Group – everyone at the table who
wanted a salad 

Law of Sines – stop, yield, and no passing 

Law of
the Excluded Middle – the U distribution 

Law of Truly Large
Numbers
– 2^{À}^{0} = À_{1}_{ } is undecidable 

Leading
Digit – forefinger 

Least Favorable
Distribution
– corridor of uncertainty 

Least
Favorable Prior – the most disliked person in the abbey 

Least
Squares – hippest 

Left Censoring – aphesis 

Liber Abaci – a showman with a silver candelabrum 

Lie Group – Army of 

Lim Sup – cannibal favorite
on cold damp days 

Littlewood’s Law – “then a miracle
occurs” occurs 

Local Min or Local
Max – peripeteia 

Loess – s 

Logarithm – poetry 

Logistic
Curve – procurement snag 

Logit – how to harvest a
forest 

Long Tail – megillah 

Lorenz Curve – when your cheap
apartment suddenly quits being cheap 

Lune – 

M Click on the ? marks
for more details.
Mahler’s
Number – a thousand (an orchestra of 250 and a chorus of 750) 

Majorant – army ant 

Majorize – bring up to the bigs 

Maltitude – a large gathering at the shopping center 

Markov
Chains – used to mark off first downs 

Mathemagician – ruler of Digitopolis 

Mathematical Maturity – musemathematics 

Mathesis – “We may be coming to a new golden age of
instrument making.” 

Mathesis Universalis – Catholic
reckoning 

MathSciNet – The Paper Chase –r 

Matric –
Beltane ring and run 

Measure Preserving
Transformation
– Measure for Measure 

Mellin Transform – honeylope 

Memoryless Property – amnesia 

Mental Mathematics – ‘deranged
permutations’ 

Meter – what Cary Grant
hoped to do atop the 

Method of
Exhaustion – a form of torture, regardless … 

Method of
False Position – playing the devil’s advocate 

Method of
Washers – agitate, rinse and spin 

Minorant – pet peeve 

Minuends – Yehudi and his two sisters 

Minus Five – Paul Desmond standard 

Misomaths – adenoids 

Mod 3 – Pete, Linc and
Julie 

Modulus – when you are not as fashionable 

MonsterBarring – what a night light
is for 

Monster
Group – Titans 

Monty Hall Problem – “To switch, or not to switch
: that is the question:” 



Music of the Spheres – tinnitus 

Mutatis Mutandis – put on
a fresh diaper 

N Click on the ? marks
for more details.
Nadir – a spoiler 

Napoleon’s
Problem – 

Natural
Numbers – 711 

Negatively Oriented – critical 

Neusis Construction – when your mom is
pregnant with a baby girl 

Neutral Geometer – The NoSided Professor 

Nilpotent – weak 



Nodated – stag 

Nonnegative – Antigone 

NonOrientable nManifold – Lost nSpace 

Nonstandard Analysis – method outside of
the APA Practice Guidelines 

Nontransitive – not admitting a
theodolite 

Nowhere
Dense – polymath 

Nowhere
Differentiable
– identical 

Null Space – vacuum 

Number Sense – anesthesia 

O Click on the ? marks
for more details.
Obelisk – Asterix’s comic sidekick 

Oblate – recently 

Occupancy Problem – Iraq 

Ogive – how one requests a
home on the range 

Oloid – Rolie Polie Olie 

OneTailed – Harper Lee,
Margaret Mitchell and Emily Bronte 

OnetoOne
Correspondence
– têteàtête 

Open and Shut the
Doors Problem
– Jim Morrison’s addictions 

Operations
Research – surgical trials 

Operator –
someone who wouldn’t enjoy Fermat’s
Last Tango 

Ordered
Group – plebes 

Order of
Operations – anesthetize before cutting 

Order
Statistics – accounts payable records 

Organon – popular way to Toccata and Fugue in D Minor listen 

Outlier – someone who gets a
tan the old fashioned way 

Overdamped – soggy 

Ovoid – to
eschew 

P Click on the ? marks
for more details.
Painlevé Equation – take two aspirin
and get some rest 

Pangeometry – what The Elements made Sylvester do 

Paradigms – 20 cents 

Parity Error – as in commited, writen, and commitee 

Partial
Fraction – a tiff 

Partial Order – appetizers 

Partial Summation – half adder 

Partition into
Distinct Parts
– ability grouping 

Partition into Odd
Parts –
gerrymander 

Pedal Point – At the very moment
Johann Sebastian Bach started his
command performance of Toccata in F
Major (BWV 540) for his benefactor Prince Leopold, Bach’s youngest son,
(P.D.Q. Bach, 21^{st} of his 20 children) sat on a bass pedal of the
organ. J.S. Bach had no choice but to
play on as if this sustained bass pedal note was intentional. It took 54 bars but Bach’s second wife,
Anna Magdalena, was eventually able to extract P.D.Q. from that bass
pedal. This incident, led musicologist
Peter Schickele to describe P.D.Q. Bach as “the
worst musician ever to have trod organ pedals.” 

Perfect Field – Elysian 

Perfect Field – Field of Dreams 

Perigees – a straight angle (i.e.
two right turns) 

Perigees – Leslie Caron 

Perimeter – The Outer Limits 

Permutation – counter counter proposal 

Philo’s Line – “The triple pillar
of the world transform'd into a strumpet's fool:
behold and see.” 

Phyllotaxis – what the “Sons of Liberty”
had had 

Picard’s
Method – ask Data 

Pick’s Rule – you cut, I pick 

Pillow Problems – stiff necks 

Plateau’s Law – good employees
within an organization will enthusiastically advance to the highest level open
to them but will then ultimately retire on the job 

Playfair’s Axiom – the
fundamental rule of the playground 

Poisson Process – trawling 

Polar
Axis – Alaskan adzes 

Polar
Coordinate – a bare spot 

Polar
Plot – ‘Baire space’ 

Polya Process – census 

Polygon – bird
flu 

Polykay – KKK 

Polytope – shiver of sharks 

Pons Asinorum – bridge to a clean
and dry county 

Porism – one “who works with a negligent hand” 

Positive – Beyond the Zero 

Positively Skewed – definitely in big trouble 

Posterior
Bayes Risk – the potential for hurting your backside in the tub 

Pothenot Problem – when the next rest
area is another hundred miles 

Power of a Point – they stymie
opponents when made in debates or backgammon 



P Problem – UTI 

Prime – a run of six made
points 

Prime
Elements – B, N, K, V, I and
others 

Prime
Factors – most important reasons 

Prime Ring – the Mob 

Principal
Ideal Domain – Garden of Eden 

Principia – Fortinbras 

Prisoner’s
Dilemma – orange dye is both necessary and sufficient for bighouse
fashion 

Prisoner’s Problem – “Who is Number 1?” 

Probabilistic Method – cleromancy 

Probit Analysis – an ultrasound 

Problem of Points – when made too
often you are left without a pencil or friends 

Problem
of the 

Products – University of Oregon fans 

Proof Bullet Proof – a proof that cannot be easily shot down Burden of Proof –
dementia Sound Proof – a proof
that holds up against even the loudest critic Reproof – when your
professor scoffs at your proof and tells you to redo it Proofreader – a math
professor Goof Proof – when you
make a wrong turn in your proof Proof of Purchase – L'Hôpital’s Rule Overproof – Q.E.D. 

Proper
Fraction – fair division 

Prophecy – what students
are not likely to be able to do in a large lecture section 

Proposition – one
side of a debate 

Prosecutor's Fallacy – going up against
Perry Mason 

Prosthaphaeresis – ante –logarithms 

Protractor – a
staller 

PublicKey Cryptology – Tukey
Model 

Publish or Perish – The Paper Chase 



Pure Mathematics – Math You Can't Use 

Pythagoras – The Wizard of ‘ 

Pythagorean – vegetarian 
Q Click on the ? marks
for more details.
Quadrant – diatribe in the
atrium 

Quadrature – test driving an Audi
with fulltime allwheel drive 

Quincunx – a pair
of skunks 

Quine – phoenix 

R Click on the ? marks
for more details.
Raabe’s Criterion – foaming at the
mouth 



Radon Measure – picocuries per
liter 

Ramsey Theory – he is atoning for
indicting Dr. Spock 

Randomized Block Design – your typical Lego
creation 

Randomized Responses – fibs 

Rational
Root – a sound foundation 

Rattleback – Spinal Tap 

Raw Score – a method of tenderizing meat 

Reciprocity
Law – the Golden Rule 

Recursive
Relation – Aunt Marge casting invectives again 

Reduced Echelon – demoted 

Reduction
Formula – a diet plan 

Relative
Error – when your inlaws stay too long 

Relaxation Method – yoga 

Renewal Process – renaissance 

Renorming Test Scores – ‘retrograde analysis’ 

Repeated Measures – Da Capo 

Repeated Sum – doubleplus 

Repetend – when another
goldfish jumps out of the tank 

Repunit – a recycled pun 

Restricted
Compositions
– canons 

Retrograde
Analysis – ‘renorming test scores’ 

Retrograde Motion – student’s request
to have their exam rescored 

Reverse
Hex – exorcise 

Reverse Mathematics – opsimath 

Reversion
to the Mean – getting angry again 

Rhumb Line – what sailors form while
awaiting their tot 

Right
Annihilator – Al Franken 

Right Censoring – apocope 

Ring Theory – Tom Bombadil is a Maia 

River
Crossing Problem – seasickness 

Robbins Equation – a worm in the beak
is worth two in the ground 

Roman Numerals – Summa Theologiae 

Roman Numerals – restoration of the
Sistine Chapel 

Roots of
Unity – foundation for peace 

RSA Numbers – tally marks on the
Ochre Stone 

Rule of Three – “Then, shalt thou count to three. No
more, no less. Three shall be the number thou shalt count, and the number of
the counting shall be three.” 

Runs Test – 100meter dash 

S Click on the ? marks
for more details.
Saltus – what French fries
scream 

Scalar –
disarray 

Schubert Cycle – Die schöne Müllerin 

Scottish Book – bistromathics 

Seasonal Time Series – ostinato 

Secants – what a
ship does to get turned around 

Secants – what
Ann Coulter does 

Secretary’s Problem – carpal tunnel
syndrome 

Self
Complementary
– tooting your own horn 

Self
Dual
– beating yourself up 

Self
Similarity
– synecdoche 

Semigroup – convoy 

Semiprime – the Prime Mover 

Series Expansion – when the LCS went
to 7 games 

Set – awkward moment
after being put down but before you take a hike 

Shadow
Reckoning – ‘umbral calculus’ 

Shift Operator – plant supervisor
working graveyard 

Signum – what you do with
checks 

Simple Graph – petty bribery 

Simple Hypothesis – A Modest Proposal 

Simplex – an oxymoron
describing anything which is at once simple and complex. For example, love, truth and carbohydrates. 

Simpson’s Paradox – Maggie shot Mr.
Burns 

Singularity – 2045
A.D. 

Singular Value – Sudoku 

Sinh – easily done 

Sinical – believing the
worst 

Slide Rule – no budging 

Slope Field – hillside farm 

Soma Cube – felicific calculus 

Space Filling Curve – horror vacui 

Spira Mirabilis – Annu’s sister 

Square
the Lune – a Debussy favorite 

Squaring the Circle – truing the wheel 

Squeeze Rule – from the bottom up 

Standard
Deviant – your typical reprobate 

Standard Error – common mistake 

Standard
Position – the party line 

Static Equilibrium – peacetime 

Stepwise Analysis – podiatric research 

Strange Attractor – Call of the Wild 

Strange Attractor – Where the Wild Things Are 

String Theory – Cordon rule 

Subbasis – katabasis 

Subcover – lettuce and tomatoes 

Subset – a pair of
Seawolfs 

Subtracted –
nonplussed 

Subtracting – dropping sonobouys 

Sumset – gloaming 

Superposition – “in the catbird
seat” 

Superposition – building manager 

Supremum Limit – omnipotence
paradox 

Surreal Numbers: How Two ExStudents Turned on to Pure
Mathematics and Found Total Happiness – Donald
in Mathmagic Land 

Symmetry – to climb a tree
without branches 

Syntheme – story line of the Old Testament 

Synthetic
Division – an invented issue 

T Click on the ? marks
for more details.
Tac Tix – a tractrix to the complete nonrhotic 

Tail Event – wagging 

Tautochrone – what Hansel and Gretel
did with a good lesson 



Teacher’s Pets – students with
Beatitudes (beprepared, beattentitive, and becurious) 

Teaching Rules! – 1. Do no harm. (Children are born with sympathy for learning – apathy and antipathy take training.) 2. Leave
the world a better place. (Teach
the students you have to become the ones you were hoping for.) 3. Inspire
courage. (Teach students to be as confident
in their abilities and convictions as you are in yours.) 4. Be
patient and reward endurance.
(Education is a race where the winners are those who never finish.) 5. Make
connections. (No student ever went
blind by staring at the bigger picture for too long.) 6. Draw
distinctions. (An appreciation for
differences never started a war.) 7. Nurture
criticism. (Good vision involves
seeing what isn’t as well as what is.) 8. Aim
high. (The goal is to build
extraordinary people, not just extraordinary students.) 9. Work
yourself out of job. (Teach
students how to teach themselves.) 10. Leave
them smiling. (The student who has
found the way to enjoy learning will never be lost.) 

Tensor – more
nervous 

Terminating Renewal
Process –
doublespeak for getting canned 

The French Mathematician – A Series of Unfortunate Events 

The Analyst : A
Discourse Addressed to an Infidel Mathematician – The Calculus Affair (Adventures of Tintin) 

Theorema Egregium – rank theorem 

Theory of Polls – The Parrot’s Theorem 

Thou shall have but
three regular tilings of the plane – Torah 

Three – Lawrence Welk
countoff 

Three
Body Problem –
diagramming all forces acting on a given rigid object 

Topologically Distinct – holier than thou 

Total
Positivity – Pollyanna 

Totative – not too heavy to
carry 

Transcendental Number – 10 

Transfinite
Numbers – “to
infinity and beyond” 

Transitive
Group – nomads 

Translation Operator – Oulipo +N algorithm 

Translation Operator – Babel fish 

Traveling
Salesman Problem – Willy Loman complex 

Triangle
Inequality – when three’s a crowd 

Truel – Lionel’s honest brother 

Truth
Table – to put off honesty for a later date 

Turing
Machine – a bike with many gears 

Twin Paradox – Sylvester and Cayley 

Twin Primes – Harman Killebrew, Tony Oliva, Rod Carew, Kirby Puckett and Kent Hrbek 

TwoTailed – bicaudal 

U Click on the ? marks
for more details.
Umbral
Calculus – ‘shadow reckoning’ 

Unary – stuffy 

Unate – disgorge 

Unbounded – From Here to Eternity 

Undecidable – aporetic 

Unitary
Fraction – A Separate Peace 

Universal
Mathematician
– Thoth 

Urn
Problem – The Leaky Cauldron 

V Click on the ? marks
for more details.
Versed Cosine – 

Versed
Sine – initial indicator 

Vicenary – Utopian 

Vulgar
Fraction – a nasty breakup 

W Click on the ? marks
for more details.
Waring’s Problem – when your pants
quit fitting 

Wavelet – a little vague 

Well Ordered – not “putting
Descartes before the horse” 

Wetware – raincoat 

WFF ‘N PROOF – A fantastic method
of proof combining ‘scratch and sniff’ with ‘proof without words’ patented by
the research team of Arlo Lipof, a mathematician at
the Univ. of Western Ontario, George P. Burdell, an
expert in bioinformatics at Georgia Tech, and Dr. Larry Kyle, founder of Genway, ‘the supermarket for genetically engineered
foods’. Together they formed the
company Maieutica. The strong connection between smells and
memory is at the heart of the company’s approach. Their breakthrough was in mapping specific
smells to specific memory triggers. Lipof, who is of Greek heritage, believes like Socrates
that the human brain innately possesses the building blocks of all
mathematical knowledge and that these blocks lie in wait for the right
trigger to be expressed. This idea is
called maieutics,
which roughly translates from the Greek as ‘intellectual midwifery’ and is
one of four parts of the socratic method. For Socrates the memory trigger was a
series of guided questions. At Maieutica, the
memory trigger is a series of carefully sequenced smells determined by their
newly discovered mapping. Lipof contacted Burdell with some of his ideas in 2002. At that time Burdell
was wrapping up his part in the 13year Human Genome Project (HGP) and was
shopping for his next big project. Burdell was initially skeptically, but he knew of Lipof’s reputation for doing what others thought
impossible. (In the late 1980’s Lipof led a South American team, where many fortunes were
secured, in what is thought to be the first and only practical application of
the BanachTarski paradox. A brief sketch about this highly successful
business venture appeared in the April 1989 issue of Scientific American.) Lipof then brought Kyle
onto the team. Kyle, who is a regular
guest on MPR (Minn. Public Radio), is regarded by his peers as a creative
genius with a flair for the unusual.
Kyle was able to genetically engineer smells based on recent advances
in olfaction that have occurred as a direct result of the Human Genome
Project. Dilution to threshold ratios (parts of clean air to scented air) as
sensitive as 70,000 to 1 were considered. Finally Lipof had a
group of graduate students translate Euclid’s Elements into formal proofs,
a low level mathematical language that can be likened to machine code in
computer science. It was a four year process to map each step
of each formal proof to a specific smell at a precise dilution to threshold
ratio. But with this olfactory mapping
Maieutica
has the code for unlocking geometry for the next generation of students who
would rather smell than study. 

Whetstone of Witte – where
to sharpen your humor 

XYZ Click on the ? marks
for more details.
Yule Process – shop till you drop 

ZFC
Axioms – Foundation Series 


