## Mathematics and Humor: A Study of the Logic of HumorJohn 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 |

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to long make shorter.

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### Contents

2 Axioms Levels and Iteration | 19 |

3 SelfReference and Paradox | 41 |

4 Humor Grammar and Philosophy | 57 |

5 A Catastrophe Theory Model of Jokes and Humor | 75 |

6 Odds and the End | 101 |

109 | |

113 | |

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### Common terms and phrases

Alice ambiguous region aspect of humor axiom system behavior bleen catastrophe model Catastrophe Theory Model chiasmus circle cognitive psychology comedians comedy comic concerns consider context coordinates course Cretan paradox curve cusp catastrophe depends elements emotional climate Euclidean geometry example factors false fear and rage fold catastrophe formal system funny given grammar graph grue ideas iteration Jokes and Humor laughter layer Lewis Carroll liar paradox logic of humor mathematicians Mathematics and Humor meaning metacues metalevel statements modal jokes Model of Jokes Necker cube notion object object-level statements one's pair of numbers parallel postulate philosopher phrase play prime numbers proof punch line relation F relational reversal Russell's paradox Self-Reference and Paradox self-referential sense sentence Similarly situation sort spoonerism surface structure Thorn's theorem tion transformational grammar true types of jokes understanding usually values versus W. C. Fields whole numbers Wittgenstein Woody Allen word