- An engineer thinks that equations are an approximation to reality. A physicist thinks reality is an approximation to equations. And a mathematician just doesn't care.
By way of example, what follows is a series of jokes contrasting the professions at each other's expense, along with some others. Hopefully these will still be funny/comprehensible to someone without a stake in this competition for intellectual bragging rights.
- An engineer, a physicist, and a mathematician are shown a pasture with a herd of sheep, and told to put them inside the smallest possible amount of fence.
The engineer is first. He makes a square fence around the sheep, declaring it to be the simplest to build.
The physicist is next, and he creates a circular fence around the sheep, arguing that it offers the greatest area for the smallest amount of fence.
The mathematician is last. After giving the problem a little thought, he builds a fence around himself and defines himself to be on the outside.
- A mathematician and his best friend, an engineer, attend a public lecture on geometry in thirteen-dimensional space. "How did you like it?" the mathematician wants to know after the talk.
"My head's spinning", the engineer confesses. "How can you develop any intuition for thirteen-dimensional space?"
"Well, it's not even difficult. All I do is visualize the situation in arbitrary N-dimensional space and then set N = 13."
- An engineer, a physicist and a mathematician on a train crossing the border into Canada. As they look out the window of the train, they see a single black sheep standing in a field.
The engineer says "Aha, all sheep in Canada are black!"
The physicist looks pained and replies "No no no, we can only say that some sheep in Canada are black".
The mathematician scoffs at this, and says "No. All we can truly say is that in Canada there is one sheep which is black on one side."
- One day a mathematician decides that he is sick of math. So, he walks down to the fire department and announces that he wants to become a fireman.The fire chief says, "Well, you look like a good guy. I'd be glad to hire you, but first I have to give you a little test."
The firechief takes the mathematician to the alley behind the fire department which contains a dumpster, a spigot, and a hose. The chief then says, "OK, you're walking in the alley and you see the dumpster here is on fire. What do you do?"
The mathematician replies, "Well, I hook up the hose to the spigot, turn the water on, and put out the fire."The chief says, "That's great... perfect. Now I have to ask you just one more question. What do you do if you're walking down the alley and you see the dumpster is not on fire?"
The mathematician puzzles over the question for awhile and he finally says, "I light the dumpster on fire."
The chief yells, "What? That's horrible! Why would you light the dumpster on fire?"
The mathematician replies, "Well, that way I reduce the problem to one I've already solved."
- A mathematician, a physicist, and an engineer were all given a red rubber ball and told to find the volume.
The mathematician carefully measured the diameter and evaluated a triple integral.
The physicist filled a beaker with water, put the ball in the water, and measured the total displacement.
The engineer grabbed his reference manual, looked up the model of the ball and checked the serial numbers in his ball manufacturers table, cross-referencing the columns for "red" and "rubber" to look up the answer.
- A math and engineering convention was being held. On the train to the convention, there were both math majors and engineering majors. Each of the math majors had his/her own train ticket. But the Engineers had only ONE ticket for all of them. The math majors started laughing and snickering. The engineers ignored the laughter.
Then, one of the engineers said, "Here comes the conductor". All of the engineers piled into the bathroom. The math majors were puzzled. The conductor came aboard and collected tickets from all the math majors. He went to the bathroom, knocked on the door, and said, "Tickets Please". An engineer stuck their only ticket under the door. The conductor took the ticket and left. A few minutes later, the engineers emerged from the bathroom. The math majors felt really stupid.
On the way back from the convention, the group of math majors had ONE ticket for their group. They started snickering at the engineers, who had NO tickets amongst them.
When the engineer lookout shouted, "Conductor coming!", all the engineers again piled into a bathroom. All of the math majors went into another bathroom. Then, before the conductor came on board, one of the engineers left the bathroom, knocked on the other bathroom, and said, "Ticket please."
And with that, some more general engineering jokes:
- There are three engineers in a car: An electrical engineer, a chemical engineer and a computer engineer. Suddenly the car just stops by the side of the road, and the three engineers look at each other wondering what could be wrong.
The electrical engineer suggests stripping down the electronics of the car and trying to trace where a fault might have occurred.
The chemical engineer suggests that maybe the fuel is becoming emulsified and getting blocked somewhere.
Then, the computer engineer suggests, "Look, why don't we close all the windows, get out, get back in, open the windows again, and maybe it'll work!"
- A pastor, a doctor and an engineer were waiting one morning for a particularly slow group of golfers. The engineer fumed, "What's with these guys? We must have been waiting for 15 minutes!" The doctor chimed in, "I don't know, but I've never seen such ineptitude!" The pastor said, "Hey, here comes the greens keeper. Let's have a word with him."
"Hi George. Say, what's with that group ahead of us? They're rather slow, aren't they?" The greens keeper replied, "Oh, yes, that's a group of blind firefighters. They lost their sight saving our clubhouse from a fire last year, so we always let them play for free anytime."
The group was silent for a moment. The pastor said, "That's so sad. I think I will say a special prayer for them tonight." The doctor said, "Good idea. And I'm going to contact my ophthalmologist buddy and see if there's anything he can do for them. "The engineer thought for a second and said, "Why can't these guys play at night?"
- A boy was crossing a road one day when a frog called out to him and said, "If you kiss me, I'll turn into a beautiful princess." He bent over, picked up the frog and put it in his pocket.
The frog spoke up again and said, "If you kiss me and turn me back into a beautiful princess, I will stay with you for one week." The boy took the frog out of his pocket, smiled at it and returned it to his pocket.
The frog then cried out, "If you kiss me and turn me back into a princess, I'll stay with you and do ANYTHING you want." Again the boy took the frog out, smiled at it and put it back into his pocket.
Finally, the frog asked, "What is the matter? I've told you I'm a beautiful princess, that I'll stay with you for a week and do anything you want. Why won't you kiss me?" The boy said, "Look I'm an engineer. I don't have time for a girlfriend, but a talking frog, now that's cool!"
- Several scientists were all posed the following question: "What is two plus two?"
The mathematician stares blankly at the interviewer for a second, then says "four."
The engineer whips out his slide rule (so it's old) and shuffles it back and forth, and finally announces "3.99".
The physicist consults his technical references, sets up the problem on his computer, and announces "it lies between 3.98 and 4.02".
The philosopher cogitates for a while, then announces: "I don't know what the answer is, but I can tell you, an answer exists!".
The Logician replies: "Please define two plus two more precisely."
The sociologist: "I don't know, but isn't it nice talking about it?"
The Medical Student says "4" All the others look at him astonished and say: "How did you know?" The Medical Student replies: "I memorized it."
The economist looks at the interviewer cautiously, shuts the door, pulls down the shades, and whispers: "What would you like it to be?"
- Two bytes are sitting at a bar, and the first byte says to the second byte "Hey is something wrong with you?" and the second byte says "Yeah I have a parity error!" So the first byte says "Yeah, I thought you looked a bit off!
- An engineer, a physicist, and a computer scientist were discussing what was the oldest profession.
The engineer claimed priority. "Look at all that matter engineered into amazing constructs like galaxies, stars, and planets."
The physicist disagreed. "Before there were planets, the matter had to be made from chaos. Physics is responsible for all the quarks, gluons, photons, and electrons."
The computer scientist coughed modestly. "Ah, but where do you think the chaos came from?"
- A doctor, a lawyer and an engineer were discussing the relative merits of having a wife or a mistress.
The lawyer says: "For sure a mistress is better. If you have a wife and want a divorce, it causes all sorts of legal problems."
The doctor says: "It's better to have a wife because the sense of security lowers your stress and is good for your health."
The engineer says: "You're both wrong. It's best to have both so that the wife thinks you're with the mistress and the mistress thinks you're with your wife --- then you can sneak off to the lab and get some work done."
- A mathematician is someone who has a knack for numbers, but just doesn't have the personality to be an accountant.
- The difference between an introvert and extrovert engineer is thus: An introvert engineer looks at his shoes while talking to you. An extrovert engineer looks at your shoes.
- The dean of a college was complaining about the difficulties in funding all the engineering departments. "Why do I always have to give you guys so much money, for laboratories and expensive equipment and stuff. Why couldn't you be like the math department - all they need is money for pencils, paper and waste-paper baskets. Or even better, like the philosophy department. All they need are pencils and paper."