19: George Clinton

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George Clinton
I still wish it were true.
Title text: I still wish it were true.


George Clinton is an American musician most famous for his funk music and wild hair style, which we see depicted in the comic. The mathematic equations on the board are Laplace Transforms for functions, by the way.


  • This is the eighteenth comic posted to livejournal. The previous was 18: Snapple. The next was 20: Ferret.


Narrator: I once tried to start the urban legend that George Clinton has a B.A. in mathematics
[George Clinton indicates equations on a blackboard]
Narrator: ...but I wanted it to be true so badly that I started believing it myself.

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Rikthoff (talk) Does anybody know what the correct date of issue of this comic is? Also, does anybody know why Randall loves George Clinton?

Have you listened to George Clinton? It's seems reasonable to me that Randall should love him. Blaisepascal (talk) 03:54, 15 August 2012 (UTC)

While reading that I got curious: How is it possible to gain a B.A. in mathematics? I couldn't find any information about the U.S. bachelor system, but in Germany a bachelor's degree in any STEM field is considered a B.Sc. Elektrizikekswerk (talk) 12:08, 17 November 2014 (UTC)

In America, BA and BS are both 4-year degrees with an equivalent number of courses, but a BA usually has a certain percentage of its coursework drawn from what counted as a "liberal arts" education in the mid 19th century--which included math. In Europe, the Bologna Accords standardized a similar system, but based on late 20th century rather than mid 19th standards. (Or, if you're older than that, depending on your country, the meanings could be very different.) So, it makes sense to have a BA in math, and many universities offer that instead of, or in addition to, a BS. For example, at my university, a BA in math required some of your non-math courses to come from philosophy and related fields, while for a BS some of you non-math courses had to be (non-social) science courses that had math (usually calculus/analysis) as a requirement. When I was a student, focusing on mathematical computer science, the computer classes came from engineering rather than science, so I didn't qualify for either the BA or the BS, so my faculty advisor had to create a custom degree profile for me to get a combined BA in mathematics and electrical engineering, but I assume that's no longer a problem nowadays. 01:40, 18 September 2015 (UTC)
Thank you :) Elektrizikekswerk (talk) 13:16, 24 September 2015 (UTC)

Interestingly, a few years after this comic was made, George Clinton did record the track "Mathematics Of Love" (http://www.metrolyrics.com/mathematics-of-love-lyrics-george-clinton.html). 11:57, 6 January 2015 (UTC) Kingofderby

I don't think explainxkcd has a math extension yet...--Forrest (talk)12:49, 01 May 2015 (UTC)

The expression on the blackboard is the expression of Laplace transformation and inverse Laplace transformation.-- 06:21, 4 May 2015 (UTC)

added lyrics and background 03:57, 5 May 2015 (UTC)

I feel we should just remove the "incomplete marker, as noone seems to have changed anything. Also, regarding the date of this comic, assuming Randall has always uploaded on mondays, wednesdays, and fridays, couldn't we then create a formula to see how many days ago the comic was made? 22:01, 15 May 2015 (UTC)

The author employs the literary concept of 'the unreliable narrator.' We are asked to believe a story told by someone who admits losing touch with reality. The first equation shown on the board, the Laplace transform, takes something that is 'real' and maps it to something 'complex' (having a 'real' and an 'imaginary' part). In the story, we start with something 'real' (George Clinton is a musician). This is transformed into something 'complex' (George Clinton is a musician and a mathematician). The second equation, the inverse Laplace transform, takes something that is 'complex' and maps it to something 'real.' At some point, the narrator's beliefs stop being 'complex' (musician and mathematician). They are transformed back into something real (musician). Therefore, the equations written by the 'imaginary' George Clinton parallel the 'real' journey of the narrator. --DP9000 (talk) 23:29, 6 March 2016 (UTC)

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