We spend the last several weeks in my Real Analysis course on Fourier Series, which I had never seen in undergraduate. So I spent a fair amount of time in an undergraduate text book trying to learn how to do it. But that is neither here nor there, because the rest of the class understood most of it, so our professor felt comfortable making a couple extra comments about the work we are doing. I have collected four quotes from one class- all of which my professor spoke in a dead pan voice which he used to give the rest of his lecture.

“If you consider Fourier Analysis useful, then these theorems are useful.”

Because who *wouldn’t* find Fourier analysis useful?!

“Real Analysis: Calculus in a form a calculus student can’t recognize”

True that!

We were taking the Fourier transform and as you may know pi appears at fairly regular intervals. And as it appears we hear,

“It always amazes me when these things happen, Where did pi come from?”

Our professor pauses to look around the classroom, as though he might see the pi symbol zoom into the room through one of the open windows (!), then continues with his lecture.

And finally, one of my favorite quotes from that class for the whole year, after finishing a proof with a flourish he pontificates,

“All of mathematics is related!” “…except maybe combinatorics.”

So there you have it, if you are a combinatorics lover, then you are not related to anyone. Have a lovely week!

##
About Samantha from SocialMath

Applied Mathematician and writer of socialmathematics.net.

I can remember learning about pi in middle school. I recall the ancient Egyptians had determined pi to a couple of decimal places. I couldn’t figure out why they needed pi to build the pyramids, but I made to definite connection to pi and Egypt and construction and engineering. It seemed to me that pi, along with the pyramids, were great engineering (and maybe applied mathematics) accomplishments.

So when I learned more math and pi magically appears in equations (e^i pi = -1) not obviously related to circles and construction, I asked the same question as your professor: Where did pi come from?

Pi quote was nice……I too feel the same way.

I believe all mathematics are related including combinatorics too (I am not a combinatorics lover, infact I am really weak on combinatorics 😀 ).

I was always amazed with Pi appeared out of the blue. In class, a friend leaned over to me and said, “It shouldn’t be surprising because we are looking at a sin function.” And I guess I see her point- but she has had much more Fourier series training than I, so the magic pf Pi seems to have worn off for her.

I agree Watchmath. I think all of math is related as well. Which is part of why I found this comment was so humorous. Combinatorics is sometimes seen as the bastard step-child of math. So the blanket statement of “except combinatorics” a little silly, I think.