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Mathematics and Humor

John Allen Paulos cleverly scrutinizes the mathematical structures of jokes, puns, paradoxes, spoonerisms, riddles, and other forms of humor, drawing examples from such sources as Rabelais, Shakespeare, James Beattie, René Thom, Lewis Carroll, Arthur Koestler, W. C. Fields, and Woody Allen.

"Jokes, paradoxes, riddles, and the art of non-sequitur are revealed with great perception and insight in this illuminating account of the relationship between humor and mathematics."—Joseph Williams, New York Times

"’Leave your mind alone,’ said a Thurber cartoon, and a really complete and convincing analysis of what humour is might spoil all jokes forever. This book avoids that danger. What it does. . .is describe broadly several kinds of mathematical theory and apply them to throw sidelights on how many kinds of jokes work."—New Scientist

"Many scholars nowadays write seriously about the ludicrous. Some merely manage to be dull. A few—like Paulos—are brilliant in an odd endeavor."—Los Angeles Times Book Review

124 pages | 8 x 8 | © 1980

Literature and Literary Criticism: Humor

Mathematics and Statistics

Physical Sciences: Physics--Popular Books

Psychology: General Psychology

Table of Contents

1. Mathematics and Humor
2. Axioms, Levels, and Iteration
3. Self-Reference and Paradox
4. Humor, Grammar, and Philosophy
5. A Catastrophe Theory Model of Jokes and Humor
6. Odds and the End
References
Index

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