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Riad Sattouf (1) vs Leonhard Euler; Springsteen advances

I really wanted to go with Geng, partly because I’m a big fan of hers and partly because of Dzhaughn’s Geng-tribute recommendation:

In the way that many search their memories for significant aromas when they read Proust, re-reading Geng led me to recollect my youth in Speech Club, of weekends of interpretive readings and arguments about Mr. Reagan.

But then I continued to read Dzhaughn’s comment and came to this link. And now all I want, more than anything in the world, is to see Bruce do Robin doing Elmer doing Bruce.

And today we begin the second half of the bracket, with a match between the top seed in the “People whose name ends with f” category and an unseeded mathematician. The Mathematicians category is deep, though, and even today’s unseeded entry is one of the all-time greats.

Personally, I’m rooting for Sattouf. The guy is just brilliant, both his drawing and his storytelling. Indeed, the whole category of “People whose names end in f” exists entirely because I wanted an excuse to put Sattouf into this competition. But if you can put in a good argument for the King of Imaginary Numbers, he could squeak through. Your best bet might be something connected to those seven bridges. Power series are cool too, but maybe too sophisticated for the seminar audience.

Again, the full bracket is here, and here are the rules:

We’re trying to pick the ultimate seminar speaker. I’m not asking for the most popular speaker, or the most relevant, or the best speaker, or the deepest, or even the coolest, but rather some combination of the above.

I’ll decide each day’s winner not based on a popular vote but based on the strength and amusingness of the arguments given by advocates on both sides. So give it your best!


  1. Martha (Smith) says:

    Here’s one for Euler:

    He allowed the Rice University Math Department football team to call itself the Houston Eulers.

    (One of the members of the team when I was at Rice was Bobby Etter, who had pro football experience. After Rice, he went on to teach math at Cal State Sacramento and play competitive bridge,

    • Dzhaughn says:

      Very excellent. I don’t suppose the University of Alberta math hockey team had a similar privilege. Look what it did to the NFL franchise, though, gotta protect your brand, eh?

    • Jeff says:

      I was working up a Houston Eulers joke and the fact that it not only already existed (predictably) but that he was in on it is fantastic.

      • Martha (Smith) says:

        Your comment that “he was in on it” makes me guess that what I wrote was not clear. So to clarify: When I said, “He allowed ,,,”, I didn’t mean that he gave permission (in fact, Euler had been dead for more than 180 years by the time the name “Houston Eulers” was used) — I just meant that his being a well known mathematician made it possible to have the punny title for the team.

        • Jeff says:

          Ha. Yeah, the chronology did strike me as odd at the time but I didn’t think about it much and decided that I most likely didn’t really know when he was alive. Okay, well, less fantastic.

    • Thanatos Savehn says:

      Us Texans don’t get no respect. Thanks Martha!

  2. Jonathan (another one) says:

    The fact that exp(i*pi) = -1 is more beautiful than any cartoon I can imagine. But I’d have to imagine Sattouf’s work, since I’ve never seen any of it. If his best work surpasses Euler’s Identity (and you, Andrew, are the judge of that) go with him. But that’s quite a hurdle to surmount.

  3. Dzhaughn says:

    I wonder if the committee would like to apologize to Carl Orff and Omar Sharif? Is it too late to file McKellen under “Magicians?”

    O fortuna velut luna statu variabilis!

  4. Bobbie says:

    I used to believe that Euler could draw circles around anyone but after some investigation I now believe that Sattouf could draw anything around anyone (and write about it beautifully as well).

  5. Despite his laudable achievements, Euler has never appeared on myyear-end lists of favorite books I’ve read. Sattouf, however, holds the record with two mentions. Also, since these were in 2017 and 2018, there’s the potential of this becoming an infinite series, ticking the math checkbox as well.

  6. Terry says:

    No idea who Sattouf is and too lazy to look it up. So this week I decide by free-association.

    Sattouf, Euler, Sattout, Satout, Setout, Set out, Euler, Euly, Oily, Set out for the Oily fields, of Oklahoma, Where the wind comes sweeping down the plain, With a fringe on top, Surry, Surrey, Old England, Oily old England with a fringe on top, Euler’s not from England, Probably Germany, Before there was a Germany, Prussian, Russian, With a fringe on top, A Sattouf fringe on top, of silk and lace and buttons and bows, Sounds pretty!

    So, its Sattouf.

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