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Party Ideas For Math Nerds? 529

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 Adambomb ( 118938 ) on Sunday April 27, 2008 @02:28AM (#23212018) Journal
    Alcohol. Barry White. Intercourse.

    Trust me, its great for the rest of us.

    While you're at it, watch Barton Fink.
    • There's going to be a GIRL there. And she's not deflatable. It's going to be the best math nerd party EVER!
    • by palantir ( 14323 ) on Sunday April 27, 2008 @03:34AM (#23212360)
      Dont forget to serve pi with the coffee
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Dogtanian ( 588974 )

        Dont forget to serve pi with the coffee
        Pi? Pfft.... real mathematicians know that 'e' [] is the most important of all.

        Though you'd have to watch out for (a) the police, and (b) the 1990s wanting for their drug back ;)
    • Scrap Barry White (Score:3, Informative)

      by jsimon12 ( 207119 )
      You are in college, drink booze and play drinking games. Me and my engineering buddies always preferred Asshole but my brother and his medical school buddies all prefer Beer pong.
  • Sex party! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Kymermosst ( 33885 ) on Sunday April 27, 2008 @02:28AM (#23212020) Journal
    It'll be the first time for a lot of things for you math nerds! :)

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      It'll be the first time for a lot of things for you math nerds! :)
      Yeah! Awesome new things like syphilis and herpes! Whee!
  • See who can recite Pi the furthest in Hexadecimal (3.243F6A8885A308D31319...)

    Play pin the tail on the integer?

    Dress up as your favorite nonlinear equation.

    Start a drinking game where everyone increases their drinks parabolically. (or alternatively: everyone drinks when someone says "Archimedes.")

    TP the English department utilizing the golden spiral....

  • by AchiIIe ( 974900 ) on Sunday April 27, 2008 @02:30AM (#23212034)
    Come on, its' a given Drinking games. Let's see how well you integrate after a couple !
  • by Cocoshimmy ( 933014 ) on Sunday April 27, 2008 @02:33AM (#23212050)
    In fact, screw the Blackjack!!!
  • by allio ( 791515 ) on Sunday April 27, 2008 @02:34AM (#23212056)
    How about not having one?
  • Gambling! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PotatoHead ( 12771 ) <doug@openge[ ]org ['ek.' in gap]> on Sunday April 27, 2008 @02:35AM (#23212062) Homepage Journal
    Set up a mini-casino and have some games running. Be creative with the prizes, and hand everybody their chips at the door.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      And you get bonus chips if the dealer catches you counting cards.
  • Imaginary (Score:5, Funny)

    by mrbamboo ( 1279978 ) on Sunday April 27, 2008 @02:36AM (#23212064)
    Imaginary party, you don't even have to show up!
  • Everyone comes to the party with the ugliest sweater that they own. At the end of the night, everyone votes for the person with the ugliest sweater at the party.
  • 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.
    • Beer voting (Score:5, Informative)

      by jeti ( 105266 ) on Sunday April 27, 2008 @05:03AM (#23212692) Homepage
      When a math student I knew threw parties, there always were a lot of different sorts of beer. He pinned some sheets to the wall so that everyone could vote for their favorite kind.

      If the party is not going so well, voting mechanisms are an interesting enough topic. If the party is going well, everybody is just happy that there's plenty of beer.
    • 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.
  • So my question for the community is: What fun party ideas would appeal to a group of mostly math-major nerds?

    Just a guess: Ridiculously hot zombies who only want a few hours of grinding disease-free love without exchanging phone numbers.

    (Spoiler: This is not the party you want to throw for your girlfriend.)

  • Go futuristic! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Albert Sandberg ( 315235 ) on Sunday April 27, 2008 @02:42AM (#23212100) Homepage
    One of the funnier party themes I heard of (not one that I attended unfortually) was one where they had a futuristic theme. They dressed up in black and silver and stuff like that, call it "50 years from now" or something. A costume party with a theme!
    And with all you nerds, I think it'll be very creative too with smashed motherboards and diods :-)
    • I'm a little too drunk, or I read that as "dildos"... Whateva.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      Along the same lines, we once had a Superhero party using a _very_ broad definition of "superhero". I remember one person came dressed as "Unit Vector Man"--basically he wore a shirt with a large i-hat symbol drawn on it, and a triangle-shaped hat so that he was shaped like an arrow pointing upward (when standing).

      Apart from the costumes it was like any other party: dancing, drinking, talking, etc. But the silly costumes were great conversation starters.
  • Cookies (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AceJohnny ( 253840 ) <> on Sunday April 27, 2008 @02:43AM (#23212102) Journal
    Bring fractal cookies [].

    Also, try asking on the XKCD forums []. They're slightly higher-brow than here, judging by the comments I see for now ;)
  • 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
  • Game parties. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by DeadDecoy ( 877617 ) on Sunday April 27, 2008 @02:45AM (#23212118)
    As a self-admitted nerd, most of the fun parties I've been to were centered around games: Smash Bros, Halo, Guitar Hero, Chez Geek, Murder Mystery, Pictionary, Settlers, etc. Most of the mediocre parties I've been to involved becoming inebriated and listening to bad music. Good parties should foster social experiences that are fun. For me, games have filled that role more adequately than other things because they give me a common topic with which to start conversations and drift off into random socio-political-theoretical-conversations. Games also tend to be effective, over say an outing like hiking, because they have no physical requirements and appeal to a more general audience. But, then again, this all depends on what appeals to your friends. I've had friends, for whom playing games was childish and annoying (because they thought they sucked at it). Just try to find the appropriate something that gets people to open up to strangers.
  • by Khyber ( 864651 )
    Quite a few probably game. Throw a LAN.
  • by count_zero451 ( 1251260 ) on Sunday April 27, 2008 @02:51AM (#23212166)
    Serve Pi instead of cake?
  • Dressing up in different shapes? Best dressed goes to that who can design and wear a dodecahedron.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    You start at 1 and continue listing off numbers, however when you reach a number with a 7 in it (7, 17, etc..), a multiple of 7 (49, 24, etc..), or a double (11, 22, 33, etc..) then you must say "Buzz", and the direction you were going in reverses. If you screw up then you must drink, and once someone screws up you restart at 1. You can go in either direction from the start, however if both people on either side say 2, both drink.

    If you get into the higher numbers and reach a number that qualifies for more
  • Oh wait, that's physics nerds. MATH nerds, eh? I don't think they DO fun. Perhaps they could derive an approximation of it, though...just don't let them drink and derive.

    (sorry, someone had to do it...)
  • Just when I thought I should be offended by the stereotypical nature of shows like "Big Bang Theory" on the idea that nerds are not hip... this question shows up here...
  • by hey ( 83763 )
    Can't beat a pi cake!
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      The cake is a lie.
  • Darts + CS games (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Sarten-X ( 1102295 )
    A game I played in an archery class with a fellow computer science geek might be adapted to suit...

    First player launches a projectile toward a bulls-eye target. Be it a dart, arrow, bean bag, whatever. The second player does the same, and has to closely justify the result. Things like symmetry over a vertical line, rotation, translation, etc. are valid options for justification. Be creative!

    The first player goes again, and the second player follows, this time using the same operation. It's followed by a thi
  • Have some games

    Bring a lot of female friends / acquaintances

    Burn British Doctor Who television broadcasts etc. off bittorrent and play on TV.

    Don't use PCs so much, you want to provide stress free but communicative environments including the math geeks and members of opposite sex.

    Could also be stimulating if you invite people (guys/gals either is okay) who are not math geeks but do something else that's interesting. Not jocks, I mean artists, musicians, geologists, linguists, basically any field reall in sci
  • 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. :)

    • by lisaparratt ( 752068 ) on Sunday April 27, 2008 @05:18AM (#23212732)

      If that's way off base, at least here's a party idea: have everyone come dressed up as a liberal arts student. :)
      But where would you find enough McDonalds uniforms at such short notice?
    • Friend Zone (Score:3, Insightful)

      by msgmonkey ( 599753 )
      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.
    • by indiechild ( 541156 ) on Sunday April 27, 2008 @09:00AM (#23213462)
      You're swinging from one extreme to the other. You're right that doing favours for her is no good, but being direct with her is just as bad and will turn most women off instantly, and throw him into the "Let's Just Be Friends" zone.

      "Telling her how you feel" is like saying to her "I like you and I want to fuck you!". In most cases it won't get you the favourable reaction you're looking for, unless you have high social value and status. It's just low-class and instantly outs the man as the clueless neanderthal that he is.

      Women just aren't blunt and direct creatures, and this is why most women won't ask a guy out. Most guys don't speak or understand the language of women, so they completely fail to communicate with them at an effective level.

      So what to do? What he should do is work on himself. Turn himself into a renaissance man. Be cultured and knowledgeable, experienced and worldly. He should be a real gentleman, but not a "gentle man". He should have fun and playful with his female friend, but he should never suck up to her or put himself lower than her in any way.

      He needs to be decisive and assured, so that when she looks to him for guidance, he's not some little lost puppy, or always asking her what she wants to do.

      He should challenge her regularly, and not always give her what she wants.

      And he should never ever beg to her or whine in any way. There is nothing more pathetic in the world than a man grovelling and begging for sex. In short, he shouldn't chase her -- he has to make himself attractive so that she ends up chasing him.

      There is a tonne of proven material out there that can explain this much better than I can. David DeAngelo is a good start. Elliott Katz's "Being The Strong Man A Woman Wants" is another good, more traditional source.
    • 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.
  • Challenge your friends to build this self supporting structure []. Hofstadter would call it a strange loop. Think of how this loop in concept is similar to other concepts involving loops, such as logic or consciousness.

    Work out the Birthday problem [] for your group. Calculate the probability that some pair of the guests will have the same birthday, then determine if it's true.

  • Slashdot has become a dating service.
  • paulcon (Score:2, Interesting)

    by paulcon ( 1279996 )
    i am a graduate student in an applied math program. we typically get enough math during the day (and night before deadlines). when we party, it's usually just a regular party with food, alcohol, and music - like "everyone else". often the conversation turns to work, because that's common ground. however, i did through a party on my 10,000th day of life, because anniversaries of birth get boring. (for those of you who don't want to count, that's about twenty-seven and a half years.)
  • -ism party (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jessiek ( 1279998 )
    I had good luck with a very geeky crowd by hosting an -ism party. everyone had to figure out a costume idea and/or attitude to represent an -ism. some costumes that came were plagiarism, modernism, dudeism, chauvinism, feminism, egoism, sadism, and cartesianism.
  • repeat:
          drink a shot of whisky
          try to solve an algebra problem in your head
          if you get it wrong, remove an item of clothing
    until everyone is naked
  • There's a math nerd party in the movie ( []) where a rock band performs a song named i (the imaginary number).
  • 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.
  • ...with Schrödinger's cat.

    Oh damn, that's another physics one.

    Plus it takes too long to play, and you never can tell if who's won.
  • This is my maths party from last night []. As you can see, it got pretty rowdy.
  • Tie-Dying classic nerd shirts, for example, would be good. And they could use their old shirts that have had ink leaks on them.

    Making your own slide rules could be fun, with a box of wood slats, a few clips, and some permanent markers.

    The biggest draw would probably be a bunch of bouncy friendly men and women from a beautician's college, doing scalp massages and stylish hair cuts, would be a big draw.
  • I dunno about math nerds, but what my CS prof likes to throw is a party with chinese food and obscure (often German) board games (Lifeboats, No thanks, Starmada, Ricochet Robots, etc...), and that is usually VERY popular with students and other professors here alike.

    Make sure you have plenty of drinks, and a LOOOONG table. Of course, if you don't have the board games, then you're screwed. Starmada is produced by Majestic 12, and they have a demo of the rules on their website... It needs miniatures and a
  • Play 24 []. But it's almost always a matter of working it to either 6*4 or 8*3.
  • Halfway to the Haunt (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jack Schitt ( 649756 ) on Sunday April 27, 2008 @04:44AM (#23212630)
    A friend of mine averaged two Halloween parties a year. The date of the first one in any given year was usually about half way to Halloween, usually at the end of April. The invitations always called it "Halfway to the Haunt". The idea is that finding a decent costume for a Halloween party in October is easy. Doing so in April is, in fact, quite difficult. It's unexpected, it gets people interested, and it gives nerds an uncommon challenge. The conversation describing what you're doing that particular day is always a little interesting as well: "Sorry, I'm busy on Saturday. Going to a Halloween party." "Oh ok... wait, what?" Seems to fit the bill nicely.
  • by BaronVW ( 890900 ) on Sunday April 27, 2008 @05:18AM (#23212730)

    This is my first post on Slashdot. Normally I don't have anything useful to say (smarter faster posters seem abundant), but I think here I can step up.

    Comatose51 (687974) got very close.

      Aside from having thrown a lot of very successful parties in my life (even making the news papers), I formed a few years ago. Most of the hikers are indeed mathematicians, physicists, and other technically minded people...we also have an amazing geek-girl to geek-guy ratio, which is very cool.

    Let's ignore that they are mathematicians, and just recognize they are smart. Smart people are not impressed by shinny objects and noise makers.

    Here are some ideas:

    - Play music that people will get a kick out of, like the movie soundtrack to a well known or fun movie. Forrest Gump has a very cool sound track for example. It often surprised people when they realize how much music was in that movie. But camp movies can work also.

    - Fondue - It involves very hot liquids, and experimentation. The more pots the better. Some can be wine based, others chocolate, etc. It ain't just for the 70s any more.

    - Speaking of wine, don't bring beer. Beer is boring...ask people to bring something small, tasty, and interesting. Most geeks don't drink, but if the do, they tend to want to experience something original.

    - Invite non-geeks, and invite as many women as you can... Women are naturally social, it is simply wonderful how a well balanced party will just flow.

    - Ask everyone to dress nicely. This is rarely done now-a-days. But it is really cool to see your friends at their best, or at the very least, a great chance for black-mail material for later.

    - Ask everyone to bring a fav game. Cheap Ass Games is a good example. But don't start games until later. Apples to Apples is another great party game for smart people.

    - Show a movie later in the evening, something fun most people would not have seen. Either really old, or really new. (I'm planning on Surfwise next for example).

    - Get the invites out early, invite all people in person (on the phone is fine). Do not invite people just by email.
    - Hire someone, or get some friends to agree before hand to help clean up.

    - Lastly, host the party. This is worth a thousand words on its own, but to be brief, a host is an active job, make sure people meet each other. Introduce people by name, and by someone that others might think is interesting. Even if you don't know someone, you can still make a statement, for example "Terry, meet Pat, Pat meet Terry. Terry wears white vans to parties, while Pat knows how to make the colour red *work*"

Loose bits sink chips.