Mathematics and Humor: A Study of the Logic of Humor

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I've read a lot of Paulos' stuff, so I was already beyond being impressed by the fact that here is a mathematician who can actually write well and express detailed technical material in something very close to English. I was initially intrigued by the use of Rene Thom's catastrophe theory to model the logic of humor in another book, the title of which escapes me at the moment. Its reference to the I was a little disappointed in this, but then again, I tend to form unreasonably high expectations. Its reference to the subject was fleeting, but provided enough detail to whet my appetite for more.

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I ordered this to further explore the subject, but I don't feel that this added much to it. It was not without merit, however, and still offered some food for thought. Just not as much as I'd hoped for, and most of it was reheated leftovers, I'm afraid. Aug 09, Brian rated it liked it Shelves: non-fiction. Very short; more an essay than a book.

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It's a strong and powerful essay, an attempt to model humor mathematically. I know I must be making this sound terribly dull, but it was actually riveting. Paulos wrote the fantastic Very short; more an essay than a book. Paulos wrote the fantastic Innumeracy several years after he wrote this, and I really think he should hit the talk show circuit; he may be able to help break people of their fear of math.

Sep 20, Bill rated it it was ok Shelves: math. Interesting, but the book seems unsure of its audience: is it for a mathematician or for a lay reader. On the one hand, the lay reader will have to muddle through some ideas expressed in logical symbolism that it seems could have been as easily expressed in simple sentences. On the other hand, it doesn't look like there is enough math here to engage someone with a more comprehensive maths background.

I am a lay reader, so maybe I just missed something. Still, the chapter on jokes and their relat Interesting, but the book seems unsure of its audience: is it for a mathematician or for a lay reader. Still, the chapter on jokes and their relation to catastrophe theory is fun, although I found the figures in this chapter did not contribute much to my understanding of the material, and in a few cases were very confusing. Apr 21, Omar Aittakalla rated it liked it. I just finished reading this book. It starts with a brief summary of the most famous theories on humor. But the second and the third chapters are very vague full of mathematical equations.

Quite boring. That's ironic, since this book supposed to be the art of laughter.

Anyway, this book still have some greats insights about the psychology of humor, wordplay and paradoxes. But for his attempt to try to explain humor with mathematics, Allen Paulos deserve a smile and a nod. Sep 04, Adrian Herbez rated it it was amazing. I thought this was going to be some mildly interesting collection of math-themed humor, but it's much better than that. It's an absolutely fascinating application of mathematics to model how humor works. That might sound ridiculous, but I thought a lot of it made sense, especially the example of using catastrophe theory to model how punchlines work.

Mar 07, Hendrik rated it did not like it Shelves: physical-nonfiction. This book is all over the place. While I liked Innumeracy this is just a weird jumbling of "hey this is humor at an algorithmic layer" and then "hey here is some geometry". Also, most jokes are horrible. Dec 17, Frank rated it really liked it Shelves: cognitive-science , non-fiction , hps.

Mathematics and Humor : A Study of the Logic of Humor by John Allen Paulos (1982, Paperback)

Does a surprisingly good job of pointing out non-trivial isomorphisms between mathematics and humour. May 15, Zrinka rated it it was ok Shelves: science , philosophy. May 09, Melanie Allen rated it it was amazing Shelves: favorites. Jul 11, Gert rated it it was ok Shelves: non-fiction. A bit outdated now and sometimes far fetched. I did like his link to catastrophy analysis.

Jun 10, Robin Dawes rated it liked it Shelves: humour , science-and-math. It contains interesting ideas and is as expected from Dr. Paulos well-written, erudite and witty May 17, Todd Hogan rated it it was ok. Strains to explain not why humor is mathematical, but why math is humorous. Feb 13, Jennifer rated it liked it Shelves: math , humour.

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Perhaps, it was so very long ago Cornelia rated it it was amazing Aug 30, Tim Rupp rated it really liked it Jun 01, Muni Sreenivas rated it really liked it Feb 01, Timothy rated it it was amazing Jan 17, CEBurns rated it really liked it Nov 27, Ben rated it really liked it Jul 25, Chris rated it it was amazing Aug 13, Jacob Westman rated it liked it Dec 02, Jeff rated it liked it Jan 05, Cami rated it really liked it Feb 19, Jonathan Weiss rated it really liked it Feb 22, There are no discussion topics on this book yet.

Readers also enjoyed. About John Allen Paulos. John Allen Paulos. Books by John Allen Paulos. Trivia About Mathematics and H No trivia or quizzes yet. This leads at once to the result that very not tall men are not very tall. Practically speaking, there is a very large class of mathematical applications for fuzzy logic—in algebra, game theory, geometry, linear programming, probability, statistics, topology.

Kosko, for instance, introduced the idea of fuzzy cognitive maps , an artificial-intelligence tool that researchers are starting to apply in medicine, engineering, defense analysis, and elsewhere. Among pure-blooded logicians, however, there is still uncertainty as to the merits of fuzziness. This spring, I attended a conference at Berkeley celebrating the sixtieth anniversary of the Group in Logic and the Methodology of Science, of which Zadeh was an early member.

One of the speakers at the event, the computer scientist and I. Fellow Ron Fagin, described using fuzzy logic to solve the problem of combining information from two types of databases; the result was a very efficient, and very short ten-line , algorithm. Zadeh would no doubt have enjoyed taking up the debate.

Directed by Colette Sandstedt. In addition to differences in ToM ability among patient populations, there is variation between neurotypical individuals.


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Unfortunately, ToM tasks are usually developed for children or patients with cognitive disorders and cannot detect variations in healthy adults. As an alternative tool, humor may be used. Humor plays a role in social communication and requires many different cognitive functions. Humor is believed to represent complex high-order cognitive processes. Given the need for a ToM assessment test suitable for healthy adult populations, we developed a test for measuring humor comprehension and appreciation, with and without ToM content ToM-HCAT.

The test measures perceived funniness, reaction time to perceived funniness decision, and meaning inference.

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Cartoons were selected after pilot studies involving 44 participants. External validity was assessed against autistic traits. In conclusion, we developed and validated a test for assessment of ToM by humor comprehension and appreciation. We believe that the present test will be useful for the detection of variations in ToM ability in the healthy adult population.

As highly social beings, humans encounter a variety of interactions during their daily lives. In other words, empathy is characterized by the sharing of emotions and consideration of the perspectives of other people. Empathy may be divided into two categories: affective and cognitive Singer, ; Zaki et al.

A type of cognitive empathy is theory of mind ToM , which may be defined as the ability to understand the mental states of others, such as their beliefs, desires, intentions, and emotions Wellman and Estes, As underlying causes of disorders, ToM impairments have been studied extensively Baron-Cohen, ; Losh et al. Regarding schizophrenia, ToM impairments have been shown in unaffected relatives, ultra high-risk individuals, and first-episode patients as evidence of the trait-based nature of the disease Bora and Pantelis, ; Lavoie et al. In addition to differences in patient populations, variation in ToM abilities is observed among neurotypical individuals Baron-Cohen et al.