Math is the original punk rocker

Look here, I know what’s going on in that skull of a head you’ve got there, you’re thinking “But Mr. W, I never got this math stuff, it’s nothing but uncool. Math can’t help me with my banjo lessons, math can’t help me rock the vote, math can’t help me with taxes. The way I see it, math’s got all the problems, so why is it that kids like me gotta solve them?” Well, that’s brave of you to think and you aren’t wrong. I’m not gonna sit here and pretend that math is helpful in any way, I know you kids are too smart for that. But you know what you aren’t too smart for? Me convincing you that math is the original punk rocker!

I can already hear you all scoffing and scuffing and guffawing at me, but give me time. Let’s start with the most obvious piece of evidence. We can all agree that punk rockers rule, correct? They all have holes in their pants and sick Mohawks, but let’s think about that. What is a hole in a jean, but a vector field of a real-valued 2 π periodic function? And what about those Mohawks? That barber probably knows a thing or two about conic sections. I’m certain I’ve convinced all of you, but don’t worry because I’m just getting started.

Let’s think about some famous punk rockers, you’ve got The Sex Pistols, The Ramones and… wait a second. The Ramones? Isn’t that basically the RamONEs? That doesn’t seem like a coincidence. But what do I know? I only saw the RamONEs live. The crowd was huge, I felt like a single element in a set, not a bad feeling if you ask me. Their music was so loud, it was hitting everyone’s ears. Think about it like this, Joey’s instruments were functions which created a surjection from the set of band members to the set of the crowd. If that’s not cool, I don’t know what is.

We’ve been talking a lot about the punk aspects of math, but math’s got a lot of rocking in it as well. All the best punk rockers love the musical scale (ABCDEFG), but that’s just a set of all letters under modular 7. Let’s pretend that this set is a group under the operation of two notes being played together, even though it doesn’t have comutivity or an identity or inverses, but ignore that for the sake of argument. In that case you would get a homomorphism to the set of all chords (something else punk rockers famously love). Let me know if you want to see the proof of this, because I can do it.

Punk rockers don’t listen to anyone (unless it’s another punk rock band). They are famous for playing and living by their own rules. This actually reminds me of a friend of mine, Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi. Back in his day, people didn’t care about numbers, numbers were outcasts. It was only al-Khwarizmi who was punk rock enough to listen to the numbers. He looked in the face of numbers and told them exactly what they were, putting a mirror up to numbers just like punk rock putting a mirror up to the suits of the world.

Before anyone sends me anything, I know punk rock is all about anarchy and chaos and math is just a bunch of rules. That’s a fair point, but totally wrong. Math is just as much about anarchy as The Clash is. I mean think about the set of all integers and the set of all odd numbers, both of them are infinite, but all of the odd numbers are in the set of integers. But defying all odds, in the face of everyone, they’ve got the same cardinality baby. Chaos reigns supreme in the world of cardinality and infinity does what it wants at all times.

According to some people, it isn’t the notes or the anarchy or even the RamONEs that make punk rockers punk rockers, they claim that punk rock can’t be defined and that is what keeps math from being the original punk rocker. Punk rock can’t be defined, huh? Try telling that to any number defined by zero. Mic drop.

I believe I’ve made my case, but I’ve left the most damning piece of evidence for the very end. I’ve only got one thing to say, Blink-182. That kind of says it all. If you want to rock out with your calculator and me, hit me up on Wolfram Alpha.


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