My very brilliant mathematician niece is at some high-falutin’ “math camp” thing at college, where she gets paid big bucks to sit around for seven weeks this summer thinking about mathy things that apparently have no practical applications at this time but might include algorithms to be used for cell phones and applying coatings to various manufactured goods…I think. Those were the words I understood. All I know is it is very prestigious and intense and exclusive. I was an English education major. We no longer speak the same language.

So today she posted this joke, and I of course don’t get it, and neither does her dad (my brother), though her math teacher mom probably does and her twin claims to vaguely remember it. Anyhow, I’d like to understand the humor here, so could anyone please translate this for someone who did very well in math back in high school, but not at this level and for pity’s sake I graduated back in 1975!

Here’s the joke:

All of the functions are at some party. Suddenly the door opens and derivative enters. All of the functions start running outside and shouting, “He’s going to derivate me! He will!!” Only one function stays put and looks around smirking.

Derivative comes up to the function and asks,“Why aren’t you running away?”

It answers, “I’m e^x! I don’t need to be scared of you!”

The derivative laughs and replies, “I’m d/dy.”