816: Applied Math
Title text: Dear Reader: Enclosed is a check for ninety-eight cents. Using your work, I have proven that this equals the amount you requested.
Donald Knuth is a computer scientist that has written several computer science textbooks and he offers monetary rewards for anyone finding errors in his publications. The first error found in each book is worth US$2.56. Other suggestions are worth less than $2.56, but a check is still sent out if Dr. Knuth finds them to be reasonable.
In this comic, Megan uses a proof to invalidate logic itself. And then, she writes a letter to Dr. Knuth to collect her money for the 1,317,408 errors in The Art of Computer Programming at $2.56 each. Assuming only the latest edition of each volume is considered, the number of errors would average to more than 400 errors per page—that would imply that practically every single word is considered wrong by Megan.
In the title text is the reply from Dr. Knuth in which he uses Megan's logic disproving proof to show that the amount she requested is equal to 98 cents. This is an example of the principle of explosion, referenced in a previous comic.
- [Ponytail is standing at a whiteboard considering a logical proof. The proof assumes P and deduces P ∧ P.]
- Ponytail: Wow. I can't find fault with your proof.
- [Ponytail is still looking at the white board, the frame expands to show Megan walking away, rubbing her hands together in an evil manner.]
- Ponytail: You've show the inconsistency -- and thus the invalidity -- of basic logic itself.
- Megan: Excellent, on to step two.
- [Megan sits down at a desk and begins to write.]
- Dear Dr. Knuth,
- [She continues to write.]
- I am writing to collect from you the $3,372,564.45 I am owed for discovering 1,317,408 errors in The Art of Computer Programming...