Songs About Math
It’s Halloween 2023 and I couldn’t think of any spooky stories like Sebastiano’s experience with shell expansions so I figured I’d write about something most people find scary: math.
Here is a subset of the list of math songs accumulating in one of Spotify playlists. Feel free to suggest more if you have some ideas.
Asymptotic by Louie Zong
Link: Asymptotic - Louie Zong
Louie Zong’s song talks about the singer’s love of their life, comparing them to a point in the Cartesian plane.
You’re a cutie face in -space
He later talks about the fact that when it comes to love stories, we can’t always get what we want.
As close as we could ever get, you’ll just be out of reach. We’re asymptotic.
Problem by Ariana Grande
Link: Problem - Ariana Grnade
When I was teach algebra in the university, we eventually had to test the students on solving equations with three unknowns. I tried to move out of the standard , , and eventually settled for , , .
It also helps that Ariana Grande hints at eliminating one of the variables in her hit song
I should be wiser and realize that I got one less problem without
Indeed, once is eliminated, the problem reduces to solving linear equations with two unknowns, which is more manageable.
Finite Simple Group of Order Two by the Klein Four Group
Link: Finite Simple Group of Order Two
A group in mathematics is a set with a “plus” operation which satisfies certain nice conditions. One popular group that everyone knows is the set of integers equipped with the addition operation that everyone loves. The addition operation, as we learn in high school, is associative, the set has an identity element , and every element has an inverse element (their negative).
One of the simpler groups is consists only of two elements: and I’ll let you figure out how to define the operation to make it a group.
All of this to explain the title of the song of the Klein Four Group with a lot of nice mathematical references such as
I’m losing my identity
When we first met we simply connected.
Work It by Missy Elliot
Link: Work It - Missy Elliot
Before cryptobros stole the term crypto to refer to their currency, crypto generally meant cryptography and Missy Elliot was one of the musicians who used it for her songs.
Unfortunately, the world back in was not ready for raps involving cryptography and so radio stations censored some words because they deemed encryption and decryption inappropriate for kids.
If you got a big [censored] let me search it
And find out how hard I gotta work it
Eventually, popular webcomic xkcd finally dared to fill in the blank in the alternate text of one of their strips.
If you got a big keyspace, let me search it.
Of course, anyone who wants a secure enough cryptographic scheme should have a big keyspace, otherwise it would be brute-force-able. Especially if the instructions to encrypt are as simple as to
put my thing down, flip it and reverse it
Do Math With U by Ninja Sex Party
Link: Do Math With U - Ninja Sex Party (Explicit)
If my number two pencil ain’t wrong, you’ve multiplied my length by width and our divison’s been too long.
The singer expresses his desire in doing math with the person to whom the song is dedicated to. I have marked it as explicit especially because it does explicitly list a lot of the digits of pi.
integrate nice and slow
The song also gives advice on how to ace exams, such as being careful when integrating functions as it is one of those operations where one can easily make mistakes.
Smooth Operator by Sade
Link: Smooth Operator - Sade
Mathematicians deal with manifolds, functions, mappings, and sometimes operators.
Though I’m quite sure I’ve heard the term at some point in my life, the best definition of a smooth operator I can find is from Wikipedia.
A mathematical operator, whose Schwartz kernel is a smooth function (i.e., infinitely differentiable)
The word smooth in mathematics is usually used to talk about an object that is infinitely differentiable.
He moves in space with minimum waste and maximum joy.
The above lyrics of Sade smooth operator discreetly references some applications we’ve learned in high school that derivatives can give us. Most mathematicians, however, will find the chorus controversial:
No need to ask
He’s a smooth operator
At least Sade should have been more rigorous and give a proof.
- Good Fibrations - Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch. This song kept going through my head as we learned about fibrations in algebraic geometry. The examples on the book were always good fibrations but the items in the exam were less so.
- Paint My Lab - Michael Learns to Rock. This song has inspired one of the word problems I gave my students back when I taught algebra in the university.
Michael can paint my lab at in 60 minutes. My baby can paint my lab in 24 minutes. I asked them both to start painting my lab at 9:00 but my baby arrived 25 minutes too late. If they worked together, at what time will they be able to completely paint my lab?