An explanation, written by Nate Grube: “I guess this page would benefit from a brief introduction to avoid potential misunderstandings. Jim Purdy has compiled some quotes gleaned from lectures by Professor Nigel Higson in our MATH 140H and MATH 141H classes held fall 1996 and spring 1997. At the time they were uttered and in the classroom context, they all seemed either incredibly amusing or profound to us. Jim thought they were worth writing down and sharing. This page is NOT an attempt to poke fun at or ridicule Nigel. Nigel is a great teacher and a very friendly and entertaining man. So, with all that behind us, here we go.”


"I feel like I wish I was never in this room."

"Any economists here? . . . . (no student response) . . . good."

"If you were a mathematician, as opposed to a sensible person . . ."

"Someone up there has tied all the departments together. There's not just a logarithm department in heaven and then a trig department."

"Understanding integrals is a state of mind, . . . a state of being."

"It doesn't matter how much voodoo is in the solving to get the answer, as long as you get the right answer."

"We're not going to spend a lot of time integrating these nasty functions. Life is too short. It's just not worth it."

"Hopefully there will be a little sunshine in the classroom."

"You have an incredible knack for making yourself unpopular." (directed at Mike Vassar who voted against the rest of the class in requesting that we have an additional homework assignment or test)

"How tall you are depends upon your genes, what you ate as a baby, and how many times you were dropped on your head as a baby."

" . . . which I abandoned on account of your astounding ignorance." (uttered in a non-malicious fashion)

"It's best not to calculate too much in front of other people."

"If a space shuttle mission depended on it, we could figure out this series."

"There's something non-trivial going on here."

"If I do successfully draw this, we needn't go on. That'll be the triumph of the day."

"Kepler should be the patron saint of Calculus students."

"I might have been prejudiced by pictures in children's books."

"This is kind of entertaining, if your mind is structured that way."

"Anyone who can figure out the equation for the distance to the moon can hand that in instead of an assignment. I'd accept that."

"If he did this in grammar school when he was a kid he'd have been whipped for his ignorance. But, he did it when he was an adult scientist."

"The next time someone punishes you for getting the right answer for the wrong reasons say: Yeah, but Kepler did it!"

"You've obviously never spent a pleasant summer evening looking at the stars."

"Mathematicians are notorious for laboring for weeks to prove what is obvious to the rest of the world."

"There must be some metaphor in nature for that."

"Those of you who are members of the middle class probably have napkin rings in your home." (discussing a torus)

"There will be a test on Friday. You ought to show up for that."

"Are enough people still with me to make a quorum?"

And finally . . . "Dee dah dee dah dee dah." (usually spoken as a substitute for some algorithm he is sick of listing)