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those zany mathematicians

A quote from my Algebraic Topology professor today:

"This statement is true in general. But in general, we don't need that much generality."

We all knew what he meant, but I just had to chuckle on the inside... mathematicians and they're undying love for generality. Also, it would be a nightmare to try to translate the above statement into formal logic and then parse it.

I've also been noticing lately how much mathematicians love to use the phrase "_____ is nothing but ____________" where the first ______ is replaced by a short piece of esoteric mathematical jargon, and the second _____ is replaced by a slightly longer one. It seems one can't attend a math lecture without hearing that at least once or twice in the hour. I was going to make up an example illustrating this, but instead I decided to search the String Theory Coffee Table for an example of this... and sure enough, their front page alone contains 6 instances of this, 2 of them occuring in a string in the same sentence:

"Recall that a graded differential algebra concentrated in the p lowest degrees is nothing but a p-term L ∞ algebra (-algebroid), which in turn is nothing but a semistrict Lie p-algebra."

The odd thing about this one is the _____'s actually get shorter as it goes along rather than longer :)

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