Under the Button is part of a student-run nonprofit.

Please support us by disabling your ad blocker on our site.

Snickering Group of Penn Professors Admit They Made Math Up For April Fools 1981


Photo by Fatima Villatoro / CC0

April fools! Holding back laughter, a couple of Penn professors announced on Tuesday that they had made math up as a cruel prank nearly four decades ago.

“Did you guys seriously think all of that crap was real?” Professor Joseph Godin remarked, wiping tears of mirth from his eyes. “Oh my goodness.”

Indeed, every known branch of mathematics was nothing but a ruse to inflict undue pain and suffering on the innocent. Integrals, asymptotes, fractions — all Reagan-era concoctions. The prank was revealed to be one of the longest-running on campus, only second to when Penn made dining hall food inedible in 1971. Seriously though, that one's not funny anymore.

During the address, professors were invited onstage to relive some of the prank’s best moments in real-time.

“I remember when I first taught Riemann sums in class,” Professor Sally Hughes recalled wistfully. “You guys should have seen the looks on your faces... priceless!”

Godin went on to retell the events of the fateful day when he and the boys fabricated the entirety of arithmetic, geometry, and calculus.

“It was a balmy day in 1981… the sun was shining, Talking Heads was on the stereo, and you know what? We felt like we were on top of the world,” Godin reminisced, staring into the crowd. “It was a recipe for disaster.”

While students will no longer have to take math courses for any reason, the university has reassured fellow Quakers that their MATH 104 grades wouldn’t be going anywhere.