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489

Infinite Graduate Student Theorem - March 8, 2012
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Spiked Math Comic - Infinite Graduate Student Theorem


Remark 1.1: This is a play on the "Infinite Monkey Theorem" and the fact that graduate students tend to have trouble finishing their thesis.

[Note that the phrase "almost surely" is mathematically defined.]

(Note: If you can't see the above image then let me know. I changed all the comic images to a new server).



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16 Comments

Whether it passes review is another question entirely. I would expect well before the millionth submission of jumbled mess the advisory board will have given up on you.

GREAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT! I can graduate after an infinite amount of time! Best news I heard today!

I understand the mathematical probabilistic tendency for any event with a nonzero probability given an infinite quantity of time to eventually happen, but I struggle with the concept of applying statistical analysis to predictive theories. While statistical analysis is perfectly valid for analyzing a set of established events, utilizing statistical analysis to predict future events of a different type has shown itself to be an unreliable method of developing theories (ex. Statistical mechanics' inability to predict things on a quantum level and quantum mechanics' inability to predict things on a macro level). Thus I find flaw in the infinite graduate student theorem. Although statistically true, when actually applied to the grand scheme of things I doubt the graduate student would ever finish his thesis due to a lack of understanding of the fundamental nature of the problem. :P

Contemporary statistical thermodynamics and mechanics include enough of quantum mechanics to predict mesoscopic stuff. Any smaller, full blown quantum mechanics must be used.

As of right now, quantum mechanics (and the relativistic version QFT), is capable of everything. It *can* deal with the macro world. The only problem is that your calculations become so tedious, uninteresting (as in most of it just produces slight variations on Classical physics *very* tediously), and unwieldy, everybody just gives up.

If you want to deny the ability of quantum mechanics at describing macro world physics, then *citation needed*.

Hi, I'm not able to see the images (office firewall must be blocking your new server)
May I know why did you change your image server? Please could you go back to the old one..

Perhaps it takes 24 hours for the changes to propogate. See if it works tomorrow and definitely let me know. I made the change since I already used up 80% of my bandwidth on my server for this cycle and it doesn't reset until another two weeks (overage charges were projected to be about $300 if I didn't make any changes).

P.S. The image is still on the old server:
http://spikedmath.com/comics/489-infinite-grad-student-theorem.png
But I now link to the img.spikedmath.com one in all the posts. :-)

The first thing that came to mind when I read this one was the second law of thermodynamics and entropy. As my thermo professor once said, given enough time there is a possibility that random particles could converge to form a freshly baked apple pie without having to do all the prep work. Perhaps the same, although slightly modified, principle could apply here. A law of thesis entropy?

Somebody should do a thesis on the law of thesis entropy!

Have to run it by Kurt Gödel first, I suppose.

What is it with infinite monkeys today? Here is indexed's take on the subject: http://thisisindexed.com/2012/03/see-also-the-internet/

"Almost surely" reminds me of "virtually" in group theory. A group is virtually x if it has a subgroup of finite index with property x. Hence the Monster group is virtually trivial.

"Their" thesis or his/her thesis?

Oh, don't start that. The use of the "singular 'they'" is generally accepted in modern informal English, and actually has a long and storied history.

Some universities have gotten wind of this theory and are going to require a student to develop their thesis over an infinite amount of time. If that student wants it done sooner, then the student will need to engage an infinite number of cohorts to assist over a finite time.

But--will he recognize when it is done?

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