Comics about mathematics, science, and the student life.

Unknowns

A one-dimensional line with unknown unknowns on the left, and known unknowns on the right. The usual coding errors are on the right, but the real sneaky ones are on the left.

The best part is when the unknown unknown is masquerading as a known unknown, as can happen when inspecting error messages in code.

Rereads

A plot of the number of rereads indexed by paper. A few gobble up most of the reread count.

By the time I’m done with those papers on the left, I know more about the work than the authors!

Wandering

A person walking around in the dark with a flashlight, thinking they would be making more frequent breakthroughs. Caption: Science: Mostly just wandering in the dark.

Well, I just got my daily session of wandering in!

Classic

A plot of new things left to be said versus the age of the best textbook. As the best textbook gets older, there are fewer and fewer things left to say.

Note that this doesn’t mean the release of new textbooks on the subject will decrease. Exhibit A: calculus textbooks.

Signs of Laziness

A teacher at the board: "Hmm, I may have messed up that sign at the end... And maybe somewhere in the middle. Well, I know *some* of it's right!"

“You’ve got the main idea anyway, right? Right.”

Neglect

How does an airplane fly? A young kid says it's because the engines are big and powerful. An engineer says it's because lift is generated by the shape of the plane. And the physics undergrad is puzzled, because they have been taught to always ignore air friction.

For all the grief we physics students give engineers, I’d take something designed by an engineer over a physicist most days! (Particularly if they are a theoretical physicist…)

Transition

Three people, each at a different stage of their careers. On the left is an undergrad, on the right is a researcher, and in the middle is a graduate student with an identity crisis.

Not pictured: The very real (and just as good!) alternative of doing something other than traditional research in academia.

Up-Front

Plot of work put in by the author versus work put in by the reader. Good papers are on the top-left, while bad papers are in the bottom-right.

“Don’t blame me, I’m just trying to give the reader the benefit of the doubt that they are an expert. You see, I’m being generous!”

Causal

Events A, B, C, D, E, and F in a diagram with their causal links. We want to only see that A implies B, but really there are a lot of confounding causes.

“We will start by ignoring reality and pretending everything else is constant except A and B.”

Folders

The folder structure for my data. It's a bunch of folders with very bad names: OldData, PreTweaksData, MaybeUsefulData, FinalData, OldFinalData, TestData, FiguresData.

The fun is when you get back to a project after putting is aside for a while, and figuring out how each piece works together to produce your plots!