AIArt InquisitionPhotography

AI: Did your math class look like this?

Caption contest:

Below the break is a baffling image. I have no idea what is going on in it or why such a scene might have been staged.  The only think I know is that the dresses are painted with mathematic iconography.

Give this image a story. The format and length is entirely up to you. The responses will be judged by me next week and the victor will receive everlasting internet glory.









Note: If anyone actually knows the actual source for this image please let us know.


Ryan is a professional nerd, teaching engineering in the frozen north. Somewhat less professionally, he is a costumer, author, blacksmith, juggler, gamer, serial enthusiast, and supporter of the Oxford comma. He can be found on twitter and instagram @studentofwhim. If you like what I do here, feel free to leave a tip in my tipjar.

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  1. After an hour of searching, I found it.

    Its a picture of an annual play performed at Vassar college in the 1800s, then a women’s college, called “Trig Ceremonies”. The photo is from 1889.

    The sophomores who finished their required mathematics warned the freshmen of the rigors to come in an annual play called the Trig Ceremonies.

  2. Oops, there should be quotes around that last bit. Thought the blockquote tag worked.

  3. Really interesting, Vassar college was one of the first universities to truly offer women a decent education in mathematics. Apparently, the first woman recognized as deserving a PhD in Mathematics studied at Johns Hopkins University, and completed her research in 1882. The board of trustees however refused to give her her degree, because she was a woman. So while Christine Ladd-Franklin deserved to be the first female PhD of Mathematics, the honor went to Charlotte Barnum, who got hers in 1895 from Yale.

    I like this quote from Achsah Mount Ely, chair of the department from 1887 to 1904, best of all though:

    “The aim in all courses is to cultivate habits of exact, sustained and independent reasoning, of precision and clearness in the statement of convictions and the reasons upon which they depend; to rely upon insight, originality and judgment rather than on memory.”

  4. “Kids, this is what happens to you when you fall asleep in math class.

    So, yeah. Don’t do that.”

  5. “Whether a modern student could ever gain similar powers from mathematical research alone, was still to be seen. Suceess, Gilman added, might lead to dangerous and unthinkable situations, for who could foretell the conditions pervading an adjacent but normally inaccessible dimension?”

    -Dreams in the Witch House by HP Lovecraft

  6. I’m not sure you could have posted a tensor photo. I’m sure it’s just local behaviour but the figures in that picture are integral to my dreams of exponential decay.

  7. Hmmm, my previous effort wasn’t really a caption. How about: The best way to describe a model’s complex curves is through mathematics.

  8. It seems we have two winners.

    Mr. Thumbtack wins for being awesome at enlightening us with actual facts and drawing an impressive, if distressing parallel with an H.P. Lovecraft story.

    Coelecanth wins for having the best response to the question and good punmanship.

    You may both demand high fives from any MAL contributors.

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