mathNEWS Issue #500: Friday, September 25, 1998

In this issue:

The Best of profQUOTES

By Matt Walsh; Selections by Da Boyz

In the Fall term of 1985, W. Jim Jordan was bored in his CS 375 class, but doing his utmost to pay attention to the lecture. And a damn good thing, that, because otherwise he might have missed hearing:

"I don't know who Seidel was -- probably Gauss's programmer."

Hmm, the past and future editor thought to himself. That's kind of funny. And so he scribbled down Professor John Ll. Morris's quip, and brought it with him to the next mathNEWS production night.

As it happened, the editor (D. Richard Kusell) wanted something to fill some space at the bottom of page 12, and threw it in with the heading "Quote of the Week".

Within weeks, the rag we all know and love was being deluged by submissions for "Quote of the Week": insightful, witty, silly or embarrassing things that profs said in lectures. By the following March, profQUOTES had become a regular -- and extremely popular -- feature of mathNEWS, and had also acquired the name which it still holds.

So without further ado, here are some of the best profQUOTES that we've culled from the depths of the mathNEWS archives.


"My life has been full of useless knowledge." (Graham, CS 180)

"Theorem, proof, theorem, proof, it will kill you." (Wainwright, MATH 140A)

"You either have to be alive or dead -- we don't accept engineers." (Reynolds, MTHEL 305)

"Who's the bastard that's been quoting me in mathNEWS?" (Cleaver, BIO 113)

"Let's pause and reflect on what the hell is going on here." (Baker, MATH 230A)

"I take the Christian attitude towards exams: it is more blessed to give than receive." (Hentzell, MATH 130A)

"We now have to write it in proper mathematical language so no one can understand it." (Read, C&O 230)

"This is on a transparency, so it should be perfectly clear." (Wood, CS 360)

"Do with me what you will. Be gentle." (Burkowski, CS 454)

"I noticed I was quoted in your mathematics newspaper. If the person who submitted that would step forward, I will give you your 'F' right now." (McCutcheon, BUS 121)

"What university is this now?" (Panjer, ACTSC 433)

"And then I discovered the World Wide Web, and I said, 'Hey, this is neat. Look at all the pornography on it!'" (Moskal, PMATH 330)

"Why don't we pretend that we're stupid. Pretend we're from Western. [Shortly after] Okay, let's pretend we're not SO stupid. Pretend we're...honours students from Western." (Willard, MATH 135)

"MAPLE is very easy to use. You type 'MAPLE', and press enter. Then you type 'HELP'." (Stewart, MATH 145)

[Looking at result on board] "Aw, shit!" [looking around] " didn't hear that. Don't you dare put that in profQUOTES or I will give you all zero without compunction." (Marshman, AM 251)

"I'm getting it! I'm getting it! Ha, ha. I've proved the wrong thing!" (Davis, MATH 234A)

"I was advised that I could get into trouble if I photocopy these and give them to you, so my way around this is to put them in the library and let you photocopy them and get into trouble." (Hewitt, MATH 138)

"My drugs weren't as strong as yours." (Hare, CS 372)

"pi / 2 is equal to 5.3, uh, for large values of pi." (Tempa, CS 340)

"You guys are too wimpy to turn stuff into mathNEWS." (Cormack, CS 442)

"0 x 0 = 0, except on the STAT 230 midterm, where it could be any number of things, according to you guys." (Bennett, STAT 230)

"Welcome to 'Bullshit 211'." (Conrath, M SCI 211)

"Instead of answering your question, I'll say something else." (Lawson, MATH 235)

"The only thing we know with certainty right now is that everything I've said in the last 5 minutes is wrong." (Scott, ECON 402)

"There are three series you should know or you'll fail the course: geometric; harmonic; and there's probably one more.... I fail." (Hewitt, MATH 138)

"Complex variables are fun until someone loses an i." (Mann, PHYS 365)

"Is anyone here hungover? What, just me?" (Irving, C&O 230)

"I should have been a truck driver ... I always wanted to be a truck driver." (McKiernan, AM 362)

"I feel like Liz Taylor's last husband. I know what to do but I don't know how to make it interesting." (Wentzell, MATH 130B)

"My wife conjectures that if I died, my students wouldn't notice the difference." (Davis, MATH 234A)

"When I talk about withdrawal times, I'm not talking about birth control." (Panjer, ACTSC 433)

"Algebra is just like granola bars. They're both full of fruits, nuts, and flakes." (McGee, MATH 138)

"You know it's a work of art because when you first look at it, you say 'What's that?'" (Dickey, PMATH 360)

"Without really knowing what you're talking about, the answer is 'yes'." (Simpson, CS 246)

"Does everyone believe this? Good! Proof by democracy." (Best, C&O 367)

"I don't know why nothing I say appears in mathNEWS." (Shallit, CS 462/662)

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