(To the tune of ``When I was a lad'' from The H. M. S. Pinafore by Gilbert and Sullivan.)

When I was a math student up at Yale,

I soon found out that I could never fail;

For they always think that you understand

If you show enough conviction when you wave your hands.

I waved my hands so confidently,

That I'm now the proud possessor of a Ph.D.

In orals they make every question get tougher,

Till they prove you're so stupid that you really suffer.

To show that you're dumb is their only aim,

But I knew I was stupid long before I came.

I knew I was so dumb, they could be nice to me,

So I'm now the proud possessor of a Ph.D.

And after orals one just disappears

For the better part of two or three years.

If you're not there, they can't see your mistakes,

So you just take twenty-week Christmas breaks.

And they're happy if you just come to tea,

And you'll be the proud possessor of a Ph.D.

At last they subtly gave me the hint

That I had better get my work into print.

They said, ``You can publish wherever you choose,''

So I published in the Albany News.

They said, ``You've proven you ability,''

So I'm now the proud possessor of a Ph.D.

Now math students all, whoever you may be,

If you want to get yourself a nice degree;

If you only write gibberish, that's okay!

`Cause no one really reads those journals anyway.

Just write so obscurely, they can't disagree,

And you'll be the proud possessor of a Ph.D.

(To the tune of ``The Saga of Jenny", Lyrics by Ira Gershwin, Music by Kurt Weil, From ``Lady in the Dark 1941.)

Polly was a math grad like you've often seen

In our lovely math library which is rather green,

And though Yale was short of housing, she knew how to scrounge,

And she lived on tea and cookies, sleeping in the lounge.

The department said, ``We've got a small condition to meet

If you want to keep on getting any cookies to eat.''

They said. ``Now we're such nice guys that we'll make you a deal.

Just get published this semester or it's POLLY NO MEAL.''

CHORUS:

Poor Polly, her tale is melancholy,

Of her many math misfortunes I sing.

She followed her convictions right into contradictions

`Cause she did the obvious thing.

Things looked bad for Polly `cause she couldn't do math

And she had to get work published, but she saw her path:

She got her Ph.D. and she's well-known as Nagata

`Cause in the May Transactions, they printed her errata!

Repeat the CHORUS

(To the tune of
Men of Harlech,
a Welsh regimental song.

Note: David DeGeorge was a rather large graduate student.)

When a friend takes orals, give more support than moral,

Go down and stand outside the door.

Make the examiners sense what may be the consequence

If he flunks and they try to leave the floor.

Bring swords, spears, bic pens, all weapons you can forge.

Bring the heavy guns, and bring David DeGeorge.

Don't bother to memorize those theorems, just organize

For orals where students keep the score.

(To the tune of ``Anything Goes'' by Cole Porter, I think!)

Times have changed; mathematicians now have a passion

For compulsively pursuing fashion so far that they become irrational.

If today, anybody should seem outdated,

For ideals so unradical, they would be annihilated.

As our whole field of interest narrows,

We all end up chasing arrows,

You knows that it's, `cause everything splits.

While monstrous diagrams pursuing,

We can't tell you what we're doing,

But so it sits, when everything splits.

With our new proclivity for projectivity, commutativity, injectivity,

The pathology of cohomology can reduce you to fits.

As math is drained of all it's contents

And we just talk abstract nonsense

And lose our wits, `cause everything splits.

So let's all make those grand old days return,

And let's stick with the math of Wedderburn.

Till we dispense with our pretension

To pass all sense and comprehension

And math just sticks to real mathematics.

(To the tune of ``What do the simple folk do?'' from Camelot)

What do colloquia do, to help you learn anything new?

They pass all comprehension, being infinitely deep,

So no one pays attention and some fall asleep.

What do colloquia teach, except that math is beyond reach?

I'll make you a confession -- at each colloquium

I feel acute depression from being so dumb.

What are colloquia for? To watch people who nod and snore?

In fact, they are good reasons for us to have our tea,

And that's good reasoning you'll agree.

(To the tune of ``Old Man River'' from ``Showboat".)

Spectral Theorem, that Spectral Theorem,

It don't mean nothin', but it's sure stumpin';

It's on each orals, just so's to heighten your pain.

Fourier Transform, that Fourier Transform,

Ain't no one can prove it, but they won't remove it.

They always ask it, just so's to drive you insane.

You and me, we study lots,

We learn nine proofs of the Nullstellensatz;

We prove Riemann Mapping, Van Kampen and Excision,

When we forget Calculus, we're scorned with dirision.

Now we've passed them, so we've stopped thinkin'.

We're out winning volleyball, and wenching and drinking!

That Spectral Theorem, ain't never gonna see it again!

(To the tune of ``A Comedy Tonight'' from

Something Funny Happened on the Way to the Forum.

Note: Professor Walter Feit is an imposing presence at Yale.)

Something sporadic,

Something p-adic,

Something for everyone,

A math skit tonight!

Not much normality,

Much triviality,

Something for everyone,

A math skit tonight!

We jump each hurdle,

Boundaries we dodge quick!

So even Godel

Says we're past logic!

Not much discreteness,

Much incompleteness.

We censored all our jokes on Feit!

We leave town tomorrow,

A math skit tonight!

Links back to:

Alex Feingold's
Webpage,

Department of Mathematical
Sciences,

Binghamton University.