# Reading the Comics, July 8, 2016: Filling Out The Week Edition

When I split last week’s mathematically-themed comics I had just supposed there’d be some more on Friday to note. Live and learn, huh? Well, let me close out last week with a not-too-long essay. Better a couple of these than a few Reading the Comics posts long enough to break your foot on.

Adrian Raeside’s The Other Coastfor the 6th uses mathematics as a way to judge the fit and the unfit. (And Daryl isn’t even far wrong.) It’s understandable and the sort of thing people figure should flatter mathematicians. But it also plays on 19th-century social-Darwinist/eugenicist ideas which try binding together mental acuity and evolutionary “superiority”. It’s a cute joke but there is a nasty undercurrent.

Wayno’s Waynovisionfor the 6th is this essay’s pie chart. Good to have.

Hilary Price’s Rhymes With Orangefor the 7th is this essay’s Venn Diagram joke. Good to have.

Rich Powell’s Wide Open for the 7th shows a Western-style “Convolution Kid”. It’s shown here as just shouting numbers in-between a count so as to mess things up. That matches the ordinary definition and I’m amused with it as-is. Convolution is a good mathematical function, though one I don’t remember encountering until a couple years into my undergraduate career. It’s a binary operation, one that takes two functions and combines them into a new function. It turns out to be a natural way to understand signal processing. The original signal is one function. The way a processor changes a signal is another function. The convolution of the two is what actually comes out of the processing. Dividing this lets us study the behaviors of the processor separate from a particular problem.

And it turns up in other contexts. We can use convolution to solve differential equations, which turn up everywhere. We need to solve the differential equation for a special particular boundary condition, one called the Dirac delta function. That’s a really weird one. You have no idea. And it can require incredible ingenuity to find a solution. But once you have, you can find solutions for every boundary condition. You convolute the solution for the special case and the boundary condition you’re interested in, and there you go. The work may be particularly hard for this one case, but it is only the one case.

Daniel Beyer’s Long Story Shortfor the 9th is this essay’s mathematical symbols joke. Good to have.

## Author: Joseph Nebus

I was born 198 years to the day after Johnny Appleseed. The differences between us do not end there. He/him.

## 7 thoughts on “Reading the Comics, July 8, 2016: Filling Out The Week Edition”

1. Nice. I don’t really get the “bar stool” part of the joke though. Any idea?

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1. If I’m not reading it wrong, the comic means you share what’s annoying at work and annoying at home by going to the bar and venting about it. But yeah, as a Venn diagram the joke is a muddle. Most people haven’t got bar stools either at home or at work, so the strip takes more time to understand than the cartoonist probably expected.

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2. This was great! :)

The mountain math cartoon is about my speed of understanding! And I loved the “vent” diagram … a good friend could be substitued for that bar stool and I’ve never been to a bar and laid out my woes for the barkeep — they don’t have time anyway and this must be an Irish thing, movie theme or old tradition from the past … I don’t know anyone who goes to bars to vent.

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1. I’m glad you enjoyed. Also glad that your reading of the “vent diagram” comic agrees with mine. It is a bit hard to read. And like you say it depends on supposing people generally lay out their woes to a barkeep. I have a couple hipster bars I frequent, and fair relations with the bartenders there, but it isn’t one of sharing problems on either side.

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1. Might be safer to vent on Facebook if you’re not there. Less chance of getting drawn into a fight with someone else.

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