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What is the funniest TCS-related published work you know?

Please include only those that are intended to be funny. Works which are explicitly crafted to be intelligently humorous (rather than, say, a published collection of short jokes regarding complexity theory) are preferred. Works with humorous (actually humorous, not just cute) titles are also accepted.

Please only one work per answer so the "best" ones can bubble to the top.

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    $\begingroup$ what about papers with funny titles ? or should that be a different question ? $\endgroup$ – Suresh Venkat Nov 18 '10 at 3:46
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    $\begingroup$ I think funny titles are fine :). $\endgroup$ – Joshua Grochow Nov 18 '10 at 3:51
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    $\begingroup$ Why just complexity (and not other TCS topics)? What about books? (I would like to post Concrete Mathematics :) ) $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Nov 18 '10 at 4:15
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    $\begingroup$ for some reason, mathoverflow.net/questions/44326/most-memorable-titles is a closely-related thread. $\endgroup$ – RJK Nov 18 '10 at 11:51
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    $\begingroup$ @Suresh: I believe you mean xxx.lanl.gov/abs/1003.6064v1 $\endgroup$ – Radu GRIGore Nov 18 '10 at 19:30

42 Answers 42

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The winner of the 2007 Aaronson/Gasarch Complexity Theme Song Contest is amazing! Download the mp3 and its lyrics.

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"Busy beavers gone wild" by Grégory Lafitte, EPTCS 1, 2009, pp. 123-129 arXiv:0906.3257v1

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Without doubt, the most humorous mathematical writing award should go to Zeilberger. Considering that he writes about areas close to TCS and his views of TCS are very favorable makes his writings even more fun to read.

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  • $\begingroup$ agreed! great sense of humor, sometimes poking fun even at TCS community itself & its conventions, eg crediting imaginary pseudonymous coauthor "Shalosh B. Ekhad". see eg his P=NP crank paper april fool spoof/hoax $\endgroup$ – vzn Mar 10 '13 at 16:06
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Jaywalking your Dog - Computing the Fréchet Distance with Shortcuts by Anne Driemel and Sariel Har-Peled at SODA 2012.

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Found this on László Babai's homepage:

"Enjoy a fun paper from 1990 that is only partly technical and tells a fable about Merlin, Arthur, competition, and the ethics of mathematical communication: E-mail and the Unexpected Power of Interaction"

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This paper is not a humorous theory paper, but it is a really humorous paper by a theoretician, about dangers of being sloppy about punctuation.

For example, in bibliography, he spelled his own name as:

J. Dullman

(As most reader know, Ullman's middle initial is D.)

I can't recall the full details (issue, year #, page), but it appeared in SIGACT newsletter in late 80's.

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"Why ordinals are good for you" by I. Lepper and G. Moser. The paper itself is not intended to be humorous but it contains some funny quotes. I would be curious to see a similar introductory paper to the surreal numbers, a superclass of the ordinals introduced by J.H. Conway.

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On the hardness of losing weight by Dániel Marx and Andrei Krokhin. ACM Transactions on Algorithms, 8(2):19, 2012. Despite the funny title, the paper is serious.

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When I read this question, I immediately expected to see a mention of Connor McBride's "Kleisli Arrows of Outrageous Fortune". It begins with the greatest series of puns I've seen in any CS paper.

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Have you considered to use mixed integer linear programming to assist you playing Pokemon Go?

Gotta (efficiently) catch them all: Pokémon GO meets Orienteering Problems

In this paper, a new routing problem, referred to as the Generalized Clustered Orienteering Problem (GCOP), is studied. The problem is motivated by the mobile phone game Pokémon GO, an augmented reality game for mobile devices (...)


The computational performance of the proposed approaches is assessed in an extensive computational study, using real-world instances that combine crowd-sourced data associated with the Pokémon GO game with street maps of three European cities (...)

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blog posts ok? its "published" in a sense & blogs are increasingly mainstream and many now written by senior/elite researchers. just recently ran across this old, imaginative entry from last April 1 from the Algorithmic Game Theory Blog, with clever resemblance to real events. see comments for colorful feedback. eg MacArthur fellow Terence Tao comments

A fantastic achievement! Now that Reimann’s hypothesis is settled, one can hope that the closely related Riemann’s hypothesis will fall next…

Automatic proof for Reimanns hypothesis

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Not exactly a paper, but I think in the spirit of your question you'll appreciate JofUR: Journal of Universal Rejection.

Their website include numerous reasons why you should submit there, detailed instructions for authors, and interesting proceedings.

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