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Party Ideas For Math Nerds? 529

Posted by kdawson
from the three-piece-suits dept.
rbf writes "A girl I like at my university, a graduate student in mathematics, will be having a birthday next month. She had thought of throwing a nerd-themed party — show up with tape on your glasses, pants hiked up, etc. However, she decided against it because most of her friends are math nerds and wouldn't even have to dress up! So my question for the community is: What fun party ideas would appeal to a group of mostly math-major nerds?"
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Party Ideas For Math Nerds?

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  • by allio (791515) on Sunday April 27, 2008 @02:34AM (#23212056)
    How about not having one?
  • Ask at xkcd (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jeti (105266) on Sunday April 27, 2008 @02:39AM (#23212080) Homepage
    xkcd has some forums. Given the quality of the replies that I've read so far, you should better ask there.
  • by Comatose51 (687974) on Sunday April 27, 2008 @02:43AM (#23212110) Homepage
    Just putting myself, a computer nerd/software engineer, in the place of the math nerds, I don't think I would want to go to a party that's math themed. Parties are like miniature breaks from what we do normally. I enjoy dinner parties with people from different backgrounds because the conversations are interesting and new. Better yet, parties where we don't mention work but things we did outside of work are great because we get to see a different side of each other. Plus, parties are meant for socialization, not sure if math is the optimal thing for that. I suggest stepping back and asking yourself what you really want out of the party. If fun is what you're looking for, then cast a wider net because there's a ton of ways to have fun.

    All else fails, just have an orgy. That has to be new and interesting to nerds. j/k
  • by IntelliTubbie (29947) on Sunday April 27, 2008 @03:22AM (#23212302)
    I know this isn't an answer to your question -- but you say that this is a girl you "like," and you seem to really want to impress her by throwing her the greatest math birthday party ever. Have you told her that you like her, or asked her out yet? If you haven't, and you're hoping that planning this party will help her suddenly realize what a great friend you are, and how well you know her, and that you're the one for her -- well, it just doesn't work that way (except in the movies). Many a shy guy (myself included) has fallen into that trap way too many times, because friendly gestures are far easier than being direct and facing the possibility of rejection. So if I'm wrong, never mind ... but if I'm right, maybe you could redirect some of the party planning effort into gathering the courage to tell her how you feel?

    If that's way off base, at least here's a party idea: have everyone come dressed up as a liberal arts student. :)

    Cheers,
    IT
  • Re:Hookers (Score:5, Insightful)

    by peterwade (1279990) on Sunday April 27, 2008 @03:27AM (#23212328)
    You would be surprised- dating is more difficult for nerds because *meaning* is more important, but when it happens, *attention to detail* trumps all :)
  • Re:Sex party! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by grammar fascist (239789) on Sunday April 27, 2008 @03:36AM (#23212372) Homepage

    It'll be the first time for a lot of things for you math nerds! :)
    Yeah! Awesome new things like syphilis and herpes! Whee!
  • Don't be daft! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hobbex (41473) on Sunday April 27, 2008 @03:43AM (#23212396)

    I've spent the last 11 years at various math institutions and conferences all over the world. I think I qualify as a "math nerd", and I have a PhD to prove it. I find the question dumb, and somewhat insulting.

    Firstly the whole idea that their is a single "math nerd" type is ridiculous. Very few mathematicians I know fit into the high pants and thick glasses type. A lot of people at my institution are musicians, several play in rock bands at night, some dance, some are training buffs, one guy I know is combining his PhD with playing professional sports and is on his way to Olympics. While most are still guys, a growing portion are girls: some are straight, some are gay, some are single, quite many are married. In fact the variety is probably the only defining feature I can find.

    And when it comes to partying, the only special way I can think of that mathematicians like to party is hard. I can remember from many times the surprise of "numerotypicals" after having partyed till dawn with a bunch of mathematicians. While there are certainly the "study and never leave the lab" types - most math nerds know are more like the opposite. The reason for this is probably that math is high stress occupation (try having as your job to push your mind to the very limit of its ability every day) which tends to lead to hard partying behavior. The stress is also the reason why many mathematicians are creatively worn out by 35-40.

    So, seriously, stop the silly patronizing and just organize a good party. With lots of booze.
  • Re:Three things. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by packeteer (566398) <packeteer@subdim ... ion.com minus pi> on Sunday April 27, 2008 @04:43AM (#23212626)
    David DeAngelo is pretty good but there is so much info out there for dating tips.

    Absolutely though please go study dating like you study in school. It is common knowledge that you can never understand the opposite sex but it is so wrong wrong wrong! Study women like you study math and you will finally get what you want.

    And take a tip from someone who HAS done the studying. Helping her throw a party wont impress her. It will only make her less attracted to you romantically.
  • by Mjec (666932) <slashdot&mjec,net> on Sunday April 27, 2008 @05:16AM (#23212726) Homepage Journal

    Just putting myself, a computer nerd/software engineer, in the place of the math nerds, I don't think I would want to go to a party that's math themed. Parties are like miniature breaks from what we do normally.

    You see, when I read that it makes me think you're in the wrong field. Sure, I wouldn't go to a party to solve PDEs [wikipedia.org] but I would love a maths themed party because I find it interesting. Little maths jokes, fractal cookies [evilmadscientist.com] (suggested before), everyone in xkcd shirts... it'd be awesome!

  • Re:Three things. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hazem (472289) on Sunday April 27, 2008 @06:28AM (#23212966) Journal
    Doubling zero still leaves you with zero. Sadly.
  • Friend Zone (Score:3, Insightful)

    by msgmonkey (599753) on Sunday April 27, 2008 @06:58AM (#23213086)
    Over doing nice things for someone you want to get romantically envolved with is a sure fire way to get stuck in the "Friend Zone". She will be like, "OMG You're just the best friend ever!" and with that sentance it will be game over.

    I'm not saying be an asshole, but women expect different things from a lover and a friend.
  • Re:Three things. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by canUbeleiveIT (787307) on Sunday April 27, 2008 @08:21AM (#23213338)

    Helping her throw a party wont impress her. It will only make her less attracted to you romantically.
    Amen. Being too available or too helpful turns the attraction switch off in the brain of most women. Ditto for the "White Knight in Shining Armor" and "Lance Romance" act.

    I have a friend that always shoots himself in the foot with this stupid crap. First, he tries to impress them with how "deep" he is and then with how smart he is. He's actually a great guy until the women come around and then it's like he puts on this "artiste" persona, which comes off as creepy and contrived. Obviously it never works.

    One more little tidbit: while men can be attracted to an unlimited number of women, there is some evidence to suggest that females are at least partially attracted (via smell) to males whose genetics (major histocompatibility complex) is the most dissimilar to theirs. So what does this mean? You probably can't make attraction happen if it's not in the genes.

    Whatever you do, please just relax a little and learn to put "rejection" in its proper context. The fact is that everyone experiences it and the more nonplussed by it you are, the more women will find you attractive. And, by the way, getting out in the sun a little, losing that tire around your middle and getting a little muscle tone will do wonders too.
  • by Quinn_Inuit (760445) <Quinn_Inuit@nOsPam.yahoo.com> on Sunday April 27, 2008 @10:28AM (#23213858)
    If she's truly nerdy, she may already know. There's certainly enough info in the post to ID her (assuming you know her already), and given the /. readership it's quite likely that she and/or one or more of her friends have read this.
  • Re:Three things. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by billcopc (196330) <vrillco@yahoo.com> on Sunday April 27, 2008 @11:10AM (#23214162) Homepage
    Since they're talking graduate school, I think they're too young to be considering long term.

    Yeah, so I'm a jerk / party animal, but I think those people who "try hard" and wind up marrying the first person they meet are absolutely pathetic / desperate. How about a man who worked the same job for 40 years, and ends up hanging himself in the shed because it took them that long to realize he wanted something else, now it's too late to start over.

    I say fail, and fail miserably! Try everything until you can honestly sit down with a complete stranger and tell them precisely what you look for in a partner, with all the details and nuances. Analogy: fifteen years ago when I started dabbling with audio equipment, I was clueless. I couldn't tell the good from the bad, and I kept getting shafted by every dealer in the biz. After a few years of experimenting and much time & money spent, I considered myself a sound freak and was able to seek out the best gear for my tastes (and budget) with minimal effort and confusion, balancing my personal preferences with the inevitable compromises of the loudspeaker industry. Today, all I need is 5 seconds to "feel out" a product and immediately gauge if it will please me and fit with the rest of my setup.

    I can tell you for a fact, the people I dated in my youth weren't anything like the later picks, and frankly if I had stayed with those early flings, well I'd have killed them all eventually! What those "bad" relationships did is help me figure out, through extensive trial and error, who I am and what I truly want. The tricky thing is that most people, including myself, can't figure out what they want, so we have to identify and eliminate what we don't want and take it from there. It's far easier to hate someone over one little peeve, than to see the dozen great things about them. That's human nature.

    So what if they're both math geeks ? Y'know what ? I'm a math geek too, does that mean I should be dating the same ? See above paragraph involving murder. Sure, I like my women to have a mental pulse, and it sure drives me foolish when the wife messes up basic arithmetic, but it's not like I want to discuss polynomials in bed for the rest of my pre-homicide life.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 27, 2008 @11:12AM (#23214182)
    You're essentially questioning his career choice because he likes living a balanced live. That's messed up.
  • Re:Three things. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Stachybotris (936861) on Sunday April 27, 2008 @12:03PM (#23214550)
    No, he really doesn't. He needs to be himself, and when the right woman finds him, it'll click. The key here is 'finds him'. You don't find a woman when you're looking for one. At least I didn't. Then I met the one who became my wife because I decided to stop 'looking' and just be myself.

    But this is /.. We're not here for dating advice - we're here to help this guy help a girl he likes plan a killer party with math as a theme (though I wonder how many of us routinely go to parties).

    The trick is to do things she and her friends like in unexpected and subtle ways. For example, arrange the appetizers in the Fibonacci series (or get really daring and stack them vertically using Pascal's triangle). Use geometry to decorate (especially Pi) - how about a 3D model of some ungodly shape (like the tings you find in the Discovery Channel store) as a centerpiece?

    But most importantly don't overdo it! You want people to have fun first and be reminded that they're math geeks last. But then again, I usually just make a crapton of food, get some hooch, and put Zeppelin on the stereo. The good times tend to take care of themselves.
  • by cyphercell (843398) on Sunday April 27, 2008 @12:04PM (#23214556) Homepage Journal
    Sadly girls almost never played this game...not even the ones that liked math...

    I put that in bold. Dude should go dressed as his favorite number. Bring some booze, a smile, and some jokes about math. Some of that "Study Girls" advice up there could be put to good use also, but seriously if this guy's going after a girl that's throwing the party she's (likely) going to fall for someone that makes her party more like a part and less like a damn study group. DO NOT alienate the girls friends that aren't good at math.

  • Re:Three things. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Sunday April 27, 2008 @01:20PM (#23215246) Journal
    Probably one of the more interesting things David DeAngelo said was that it's a lot easier to turn a sexual relationship into a romantic one than the other way around.

    Or, to put it another way, [bash.org]

    A woman has a close male friend. This means that he is probably interested in her, which is why he hangs around so much. She sees him strictly as a friend. This always starts out with, you're a great guy, but I don't like you in that way. This is roughly the equivalent for the guy of going to a job interview and the company saying, You have a great resume, you have all the qualifications we are looking for, but we're not going to hire you. We will, however, use your resume as the basis for comparison for all other applicants. But, we're going to hire somebody who is far less qualified and is probably an alcoholic. And if he doesn't work out, we'll hire somebody else, but still not you. In fact, we will never hire you. But we will call you from time to time to complain about the person that we hired.
    Don't be that guy.

    (And by the way, chicks dig bash.org. Really.)
  • Re:Ask at xkcd (Score:4, Insightful)

    by d34thm0nk3y (653414) on Sunday April 27, 2008 @01:46PM (#23215462)
    xkcd has some forums. Given the quality of the replies that I've read so far, you should better ask there.

    Seriously! I don't know why this thread is so bitter. I actually would have though /.'ers would have some fun with this topic but damn.

    One guy sounds actually angry that anyone would dare try to come up with a party he would find fun since he is a math guy. The dating experts against throwing the party in the first place are idiots. Girls like fun/social/entertaining guys that can get things done, planning and executing a unique party is a good thing!

    I really have no relevant advice to the question asked other than ignore all the assholes and have fun.
  • Re:MOD PARENT DOWN (Score:5, Insightful)

    by doktor-hladnjak (650513) on Sunday April 27, 2008 @03:25PM (#23216298)

    There's some truth in what both of you have to say really. Being yourself and getting the girl are just not going to happen if your life mainly consists of sitting in your basement playing video games.

    That said, searching for dates is really only good for finding one thing--dates. You may get laid or meet the girl of your dreams, but you're mostly going to spend money on dinners, drinks and movies for somebody's company for a few hours. If you just enjoy dating for the sake of dating (and many people do), all that is fine. A lot of the advice out there on the internet is targeted towards guys who want to date more and get laid more.

    If you're looking for that serious, long term relationship though, well, you shouldn't actually be looking for it. People who are looking hard for relationships tend to be the last ones who should be in a relationship as they're often needy, insecure and desperate. The best relationships are the ones that you sort of stumble across while doing something else. Obviously, playing video games at home all day is unlikely to provide an environment where this can happen.

    Beyond changing significant, alterable aspects of yourself (like not bathing or generally being disgusting), the key is not to stop being yourself, but rather to improve yourself such that other people can find you "being yourself" more interesting. One easy way to do that is to undertake some new hobbies or activities where there will be the kind of people you'd like to end up in a relationship with around. For some people, dating more (and making themselves more datable) is such a hobby. For others, it might be taking an art class or learning to ballroom dance or working on a politician's campaign.

  • by Garridan (597129) on Sunday April 27, 2008 @06:16PM (#23217556)
    You realize that the power of the contour integral lies in the fact that you inegrate along a curve which encloses an area containing a singularity, allowing one to completely avoid the otherwise difficult to deal with singularity? So what you just said, is "Hey baby! Can I get awkwardly close to, but not quite touch your dirty bits?"

    Yeah. That'll win 'er over.
  • Re:Three things. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by syousef (465911) on Sunday April 27, 2008 @10:33PM (#23219206) Journal
    David DeAngelo is pretty good but there is so much info out there for dating tips. Eben W. Pagan (aka David DeAngelo) is pretty good at making money by preying on stupid desperate people. All these supposed self help books - get rich quick, or marry a man within a year, make women fall over on their back with their legs in the air - are bunk. In each a master manipulator suggests ways in which you can manipulate other people for your benefit, but only in order to distract you while he/she manipulates you out of money. Study women like you study math and you will finally get what you want. If all you want is casual sex and if you're able to manipulate dumb women, you MAY get what you want. If what you want is a long lasting relationship with anyone intelligent all you're doing is blowing opportunities. Helping her throw a party wont impress her. It will only make her less attracted to you romantically. If she's already totally uninterested, throwing a party will neither make her differently nor make her less attracted. The fact is that if you're at that point and she's already gotten use to thinking of you that way, nothing short of a minor miracle is going to bring her around. You're much better off finding someone who is attracted to the real you, rather than ANY fake persona you can put together. Otherwise the minute you stop putting the effort in to perpetuate the fake person she'll lose interest again. "Treat 'em mean to keep 'em keen", "negging", withhold sex till you get the ring, don't go on dates if they don't ask days in advance, don't call and email so they think you're not easy to obtain, make them laugh while being an over-assertive arrogant ass so they see you're smart and strong - all a bunch of manipulative bullshit. Save your time and money, realize that you're no more messed up than any other jerk or moron out there (so don't walk around like a doormat), and that it really doesn't matter if you "understand" a woman who's only impressed if you're being an asshole since being romantically attached to her will RUIN your life. If she's such a child, move on and find someone you can be nice to who'll be nice back! Do you REALLY want to share your life with someone who'll lose interest if you're nice to them? That's insane! A one way ticket to alimony and child care payments IF you succeed. ...and if you're really intent on a short term casual shag, finding a woman that doesn't think you're a dweeb is much less work than trying to convince on who thinks you are that you're not. Be sure to fasten your condom (and even then cross your fingers you don't get something nasty). I'm not a looker, and I am a geek. With my partner almost 5 years. Married less than a year, 1st child on the way. Had a couple of nasty relationships before and I can tell you the difference between a good relationship and one where you're treated like shit is day and night. Never had an STD but didn't live like a monk when I was single and can tell you casual sex is not worth the risk or effort.
  • Re:Three things. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by syousef (465911) on Sunday April 27, 2008 @10:49PM (#23219312) Journal
    Since they're talking graduate school, I think they're too young to be considering long term.

    We're designed to have children from our mid teens on. You should probably hold off till mid 20s but beyond that it gets harder, not easier. Do you really think it's easy or clever trying to have and raise a child STARTING in your late 30s? I'm starting in my early 30s and finding it daunting.

    Yeah, so I'm a jerk / party animal, but I think those people who "try hard" and wind up marrying the first person they meet are absolutely pathetic / desperate

    So are those people who are so picky, socially unskilled or so disloyal that they wake up at 40, realize they've been a big kid all their life, and marry the first person they can latch onto that will have their sad, pathetic, mutton dressed as lamb selves.

    How about a man who worked the same job for 40 years, and ends up hanging himself in the shed because it took them that long to realize he wanted something else, now it's too late to start over.

    If you hate your job that badly either find something else to make a living at or fill your time away from work with things that interest you. (Preferably do both).

    I say fail, and fail miserably! Try everything until you can honestly sit down with a complete stranger and tell them precisely what you look for in a partner, with all the details and nuances.

    If you're too picky and have an inflexible list, you'll likely wind up alone. You should have several lists - what you can put up with, or won't. What you think is essential in a partner, and what's nice to have. The the hard part is to realize life isn't perfect and you certainly won't get all your nice to haves and may still have to find a balance compromising some of the essentials (but if you get it wrong your life turns to shite).

    I can tell you for a fact, the people I dated in my youth weren't anything like the later picks, and frankly if I had stayed with those early flings, well I'd have killed them all eventually! What those "bad" relationships did is help me figure out, through extensive trial and error, who I am and what I truly want.

    We all grow and change. Part of the challenge is to include your partners in that growth and change so that you don't grow apart. If you've changed so much, have you considered that your former partners may also have changed drastically?

    The tricky thing is that most people, including myself, can't figure out what they want, so we have to identify and eliminate what we don't want and take it from there. It's far easier to hate someone over one little peeve, than to see the dozen great things about them. That's human nature.

    Realize that you may not get what you want even if you work out what that is. You do have to compromise.

    Hate takes a lot of effort. It comes from being stuck with someone you don't want to be with, or from them having done you harm (either suddenly or over the course of the relationship).

    So what if they're both math geeks ? Y'know what ? I'm a math geek too, does that mean I should be dating the same ?

    There are pros and cons. Having someone that can understand your life's work in detail would be a wonderful thing, but so can the variety of bringing in a whole other set of talents, skills and and passions. I'm a coder who wanted to be a scientist for a long time. My wife is a primary school teacher with strong artist tendancies. One reason our relationship works so well is that we enrich each other's lives and expose each other to things we'd never have looked into on our own. It's about having the RIGHT things in common (similar attitudes, beliefs, goals), not about having everything in common or everything opposite. THEN it's about compromise and genuinely caring about the other person's happiness enough to make sacrifices and still be happy.
  • Re:sigh. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by syousef (465911) on Sunday April 27, 2008 @10:52PM (#23219332) Journal
    Hey at least the married person can claim to have been very successful at least once, whereas the single bloke hasn't gotten as far. Do YOU have a piece of paper signed by your partner that says they're willing to spend the rest of their life with you?
  • by jbatista (1205630) on Monday April 28, 2008 @01:10AM (#23220194)

    He needs to be himself, and when the right woman finds him, it'll click. [...] You don't find a woman when you're looking for one. At least I didn't.
    The problem with the "just be yourself" advice is often toxic to chronic introverts is that it gives the clueless guys (and I hope Stachybotris is not assuming I'm calling him clueless, I'm not because first and foremost I don't really know him) the wrong impression that continuing their present behavior is correct. And it exhempts them from wishing to have some degree of control over their actions. And I personally don't see anything wrong with a guy admitting that he's (actively) looking for a gal. (And what to say of women's magazines with catchy titles like "How to catch the man of your dreams" etc.?...) I understand it may make you look like a creep if you admit it openly, so please don't advertise it/say it openly unless someone asks directly. And keep it non-challant. After all, what's wrong with one wanting a good life partner except others wanting him/her to be/look/feel bad about it? As for party ideas... IMHO, I'm sure you'll agree that the idea of a party is to get people to interact, not just sit around in a corner. The hosts/hostesses are supposed to have a minimum social knowledge about the guests, so I'd suggest arranging some sort of "hunt" which would encourage people to interact at a social and not intellectual level (something I dare say might be challenging in this environment...) instead of just be wallflowers. Dumb examples that come to mind: Having people talk to each other to try to find out whether a three-algarism sequence they have matches with the algarism sequence of Pi or some other known number; or giving each one a sliver of paper (before attending the party) with the name of famous mathematicians and their birth years/natal cities. Distribute the little pieces of paper beforehand, and through different groups, to try to break people away from their usual small group of friends. Be roudy. Use a Twister game where the spots are supposed to be multiples of 2, 3 or 5. It only takes a couple of more "daring" people to start it; although it may cause the more introverts to lock up and/or women to shy away from possible physical contact. A smart host should be sensible to "feeling the vibe" and be prepared to make prehemptive changes.
  • Re:Three things. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Tuesday April 29, 2008 @01:38PM (#23240950) Homepage Journal
    ""White Knight in Shining Armor" "
    Actually that does work, just not the way you think.

    It doesn't mean 'rescued her' it means a physically fit guy with land and money rescued her.

"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler." -- Albert Einstein

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