Today I attended the celebration at NYU of Louis Nuremberg, the fourth NY recipient of the Abel prize in mathematics, a highly prestigious prize established in honor of the great group theorist Niels Henrik Abel.

The Abel prize is roughly the equivalent, in Mathematics, of the Nobel prize. In the thirteen years the prize has been in existence, four of the winners have been from our own NYU Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences.

Which is amazing.

Because this was an important event, I thought it merited an original joke worthy of the occasion. So I casually buttonholed various colleagues, and said the following:

“You know, if it turns out that there are a prime number of people here, we could all join hands and form a circle. Then we’d be an Abelian group.”

Fortunately, this was just the right crowd for that sort of joke, and everybody thought it was very funny.

But I would definitely not recommend it for most parties.

3 thoughts on “Abelian”

  1. Actualy, the San Luis Obispo Mathematics department made a “Free Abelian Groups” t-shirt.

    It was red, with a big “power to the people fist on it” written in a suitably “radical” font.

    D still wears his and people ask him what the cause is about …

  2. Ah, another prime example of Math humor!

    I hope they didn’t charge for the shirts.

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