Home > math education > Yellow Pig Carols

Yellow Pig Carols

July 16, 2012

Tomorrow is Yellow Pig Day, which is a yearly tradition here at HCSSiM during which we celebrate our mascot the yellow pig and our favorite number, 17.

In particular, there will be an hour and a half lecture during which we will hear many surprising and elegant 17 facts (examples: the longest time anybody has ever sat in a tub of ketchup? 17 hours. The average adolescent male has a sexually related thought how often? Every 17 seconds).

Some time after the 17 lecture we get together to sing Yellow Pig Carols. These are usually set to the tune of some song, with the lyrics changed to refer to math, in particular the number 17, and yellow pigs, Weird Al Yankovic- style. Check out this list for a taste.

But there’s a problem, which is that the songs are really old and many of the tunes are unknown to this crop of kids. In desperate need of a revamp, I got my workshop to write a new song, which I’m super proud of. We started out by voting on a song (winner: Somewhere Over the Rainbow) for which we wrote new lyrics. Here they are:

Some July Seventeenth

Some july seventeenth
when pigs fly
we’ll see patches of yellow
scattered across the sky

Some “f” over the reals
satisfy
f of x plus f of y
is f-of-x plus y

someday I’ll find another g
besides f of t is k t or zer-o
and then I will compose the two
and get solutions that are new
they’ll appear-o

Some groups they are abelian
they commute
but some have commutators
whose actions are not moot

The action on the complex plane
by matrices is so in-sanely dum-ber
than even that of conjugation
whose equivalence relation pairs the num-bers

Some july seventeenth
when pigs fly
we’ll see patches of yellow
scattered across the sky

Honestly I thought it would stop there, but people around here have been on a tear. My hilarious junior staff Maxwell Levit has written a brilliant song based on Gotye’s “Somebody I Used to Know”. If you haven’t been living under a rock, you will have heard that song (and if you haven’t heard that song, please go ahead and do so now), about a guy wondering why this woman has left him and won’t talk to him, and then she comes in and tells her story which is how much of a manipulative creep he really was. There’s a dramatic video featuring nakedness and body paint which adds to the drama and to the song.

Well Max just turned that shit around and now it’s Fermat singing to Fermat’s Last Theorem, wondering where he went wrong, and then the theorem talks back and tells us the real deal. Plus he uses the word “marginalia,” which is in itself awesome. Here it is:

A Theorem that I used to know

(Fermat)
Now and then I think of Diophantine equations
Like how Pythagoras showed the case for n=2
Told myself that I understood,
And didn’t write down what I thought I would
Remember when I looked back at my marginalia

You can get addicted to a certain type of hubris
Assuming you don’t need to use elliptic curves
So when I found my proof did not make sense,
I knew it wasn’t my incompetence
But I’ll admit I was confused to say the least.

But you didn’t have to be so hard,
Make out like my intuitive method was for nothing
I don’t even need to know
But they treat you like Wiles solved you and that feels so rough

No you didn’t have to stoop so low
Elliptic curves and modular forms lack in imagination
I guess I don’t need you though,
Now you’re just some theorem that I used to know.

Now you’re just some theorem that I used to know.
Now you’re just some theorem that I used to know.

(theorem)
Now and then I think of when you said you’d solved me.
Part of me believing I had some marvelous proof.
But I don’t really work that way.
Adhering to everything you say.

You said that you could let it go,
And you shouldn’t get too hung up on a theorem that you used to know!

(Fermat)
But you didn’t have to be so hard,
Make out like my intuitive method was for nothing
I don’t even need to know
But they treat you like Wiles solved you and that feels so rough

No you didn’t have to stoop so low
Elliptic curves and modular forms lack in imagination
I don’t even need you though,
Now you’re just some theorem that I used to know.

[x2]
Some Theorem!
(I used to know)
Some Theorem!
(Now you’re just some theorem that I used to know)

(I used to know)
(That I used to know)
(I used to know)
Some Theorem!

We’re gonna make Devin Ivy, a fantastically funny junior staff here as well as a photographer, play Gotye/ Fermat in the video, with yellow pigs getting continually plastered all over his body. He’s Gotye’s spitting image:

Categories: math education
  1. July 16, 2012 at 8:05 am

    I know they’re just jokes, but this “guys think about sex every X seconds” meme is a pretty terrible stereotype from everyone’s point of view. (Why is it never girls? What does that say about the view of sex and of gender relations that you’re tacitly condoning?)

  2. albrt
    July 17, 2012 at 7:59 pm

    Powerful stereotypes are based on truthiness, and in my experience they are dangerous to more or less exactly the extent they seem true.

  3. July 18, 2012 at 11:57 am

    Small world moment: I studied in the Budapest Semesters in Mathematics program with Devin. What a pleasant surprise to see his face on a blog I read!

  1. July 18, 2012 at 7:06 am
Comments are closed.
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,412 other followers

%d bloggers like this: