Brush Up Your Björner:


Just returning from a conference in Stockholm.

(Cole Porter: Brush up your Shakespeare – new lyrics by Kimmo Eriksson)

The girls today in society
go for great mathematics, see.
So to win their hearts you must quote with ease
Pythagoras and Archimedes.
One must know Newton and Gauss and, hey,
what’s his name, eh? Poincaré!
Unless you know Grothendieck and DesCartes
no sweet lady will give you her heart.
But to really make them fall
and to make your love-life surrealist,
quote the greatest of them all:
a 60-year old comb’naturrealist.

Brush up your Björner,
start quoting him now!
Brush up your Björner,
and the ladies you will wow.

Many women will find it admirable
if you tell her she makes your CHIPS FIRABLE.
If your lady-friend still isn’t yielding
say you’ve got this big place: a TITS BUILDING.
If there still is some source of estrangement
make some cozier SUBSPACE ARRANGEMENT.
Brush up your Björner,
and they’ll all be charmed!

Brush up your Björner,
start quoting him now!
Brush up your Björner,
and the ladies you will wow.

If she’s tough there’s a story that’s tellable
’bout a girl who was tough-shelled but SHELLABLE.
If she pouts and you’ve fallen from graces,
why, start counting her NUMBER OF FACES.
Tell’er straight, if you cannot afford ‘er,
your finances ‘re in WEAK PARTIAL ORDER.
Brush up your Björner,
and they’ll all be charmed.

Brush up your Björner,
start quoting him now!
Brush up your Björner,
and the ladies you will wow.

When you’re fighting the battle of sexes
say that mating, your CHESSBOARD COMPLEX is
If she likes films without too much piety,
go on show her a PROJECTIVE VARIETY…
Now you don’t need no more of tutorial.
To match up, just be COMBINATORIAL!
Brush up your Björner,
and they’ll all be charmed.
Like us!

(A later post will be devoted to annotating Eriksson’s lyrics. )

 Update: Here is another performence for the original song.

This entry was posted in Conferences, Poetry and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Brush Up Your Björner:

  1. Olle says:

    Thanks for a really nice and interesting blog, Gil!

    I’ve noticed, however, a trend which looks like an unfortunate narrowing-down of its subject matter: your two latest entries have dealt (more or less explicitly) with sex. While I cannot deny that that is an interesting topic, there are many other topics that also merit attention… 😉

  2. JeffE says:

    Kimmo FTW!

  3. Gil Kalai says:

    Dear Olle, thanks for the remarks regarding my blog. Kimmo’s very nice poem performed on Friday night dinner was one of the non-technnical highlights of “Andersfest”, and actually it gives a good opportunity to explain the different terms from the poem, chip-firing games, shellability, f-vecors, weak and Bruhat order, etc. (I did not regard it as sexual, and certainly there was nothing really about sex in my book review on Landsburg’s book, so the topic of sex was not yet appropriately dealt with on this blog.)

    A moving and remarkable highlight of the meeting was a piece by Christine Bjorner, titled “The Golden Room and the Golden Mountain” with a very beautiful metaphoric description of her perception of mathematics and mathematician. I hope this piece will be published. (I’d love to publish it here!)

    There were also many interesting mathematical lectures that I will be happy to discuss here sometime. Take, for example, Mark Goresky’s title: “The Diaconis mind reader”. Can you guess (or mind read) what is it about?

  4. Olle says:

    “The Diaconis mind reader” – I’m afraid I have zero clue.

  5. Gil says:

    Indeed before the conference it was not clear to me at all what Goresky was going to talk about. I thought it is more likely that the title refers to how Diaconis reads the minds of others and not to how Diaconis’ own mind can be read. It also looked somewhat more reasonable that the lecture is related to Mark’s parallel carreer in engineering mainly his works on linear (and non-linear) feedback shift registers and not to his career in topology, the study of singularities, algebraic geometry, and representation theory. But there was a slight possibility that it is somehow related to subspace arrangements that both Diaconis and Goresky like.

    As often (but not always) is the case, after hearing the lecture I had much clearer idea of what it was about. Mark described a card trick of Diaconis where he takes a deck of cards, gives it to a person at the end of the room, lets this person “cut” the deck and replace the two parts, then asks many other people do the same and then asks people to take one card each from the deck. Next Diaconis is trying to read the mind of the five people with the last cards by asking them to concentrate on the cards they have. To help him a little against noise coming from other minds he asks those with black cards to step forward. Then he guesses the cards each of the five people have.

    Mark said that Diaconis likes to perform this magic with a crowd of magician since it violates the basic rule: “never let the cards out of your control”. This trick is performed (with a reduced deck of 32 cards) based on a simple linear feedback shift register. Since all the operations of cuting and pasting amount to cyclic permutations, the 5 red/black bits are enough to tell the cylic shift and no genuine mind reading is required.

  6. Pingback: Annotating Kimmo Eriksson’s Poem « Combinatorics and more

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