Posted by: Dave Richeson | September 5, 2009

Tom Lehrer’s math songs

After writing about some well known people with degrees in mathematics, I was moved to re-listen to some old Tom Lehrer songs on YouTube. I decided I’d post some links to his more mathematical songs here. Enjoy.

First, “Lobachevsky,” a song about the Russian mathematician Nikolai Lobachevsky and his discovery of non-Euclidean geometry, which some historians claimed was actually due to Gauss (this claim of plagiarism now seems to have been thoroughly refuted):

Here are some other videos:

Here are some audio-only songs:

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Responses

  1. In the subject of math songs, my favorite one is definitely Finite Simple Group of Order Two: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UTby_e4-Rhg

    • That is a fantastic song. The first time I saw it I thought, “I know those stairs!” Sure enough, it is Lunt Hall at Northwestern University, where I went to graduate school. Many of the audience members are my professors.

  2. You might also check out the Pysical Revue at http://www.haverford.edu/physics-astro/songs/lehrer/physrev.htm#songs, which includes live performances from a 1952 gig at Harvard. I usually play “Any questions?” for my calculus classes right before I administer the final exam.

    • Thanks, Travis! I just added it and the Slide Rule Song to the post above.

  3. The version of New Math that you post is truncated. It includes only the first (decimal) half. The second (octal) half is what makes it so funny. I recommend replacing that link with this one, twice as long.

    • Thanks, Gene! I replaced my link with yours.

  4. Oops … wanted to check the “follow-up” box.

  5. [...] out more from Tom Lehrer on Dave Richeson’s blog. There’s a wealth of great Tom Lehrer stuff out there.  Maybe you can memorize one of the [...]

  6. My Geometry students have a math video project each year. This is the first year I feel that one of my groups have plagerised their music. I really feel I have heard this song before: It is about Pythagorean Theorem sung to the tune of Jesus loves me.

    If anyone else knows of this song, please let me know the exact website.
    Thanks amillion.

  7. [...] 7. Lobachevsky by Tom Lehrer (I gave links to other math songs by Tom Lehrer in a previous blog post) [...]


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