Several students were asked the following problem: Prove that all odd integers are prime. Well, the first student to try to do this was a math student. He says "Hmmm... Well, 1 is prime, 3 is prime, 5 is prime, and by induction, we have that all the odd integers are prime." Of course, there are some jeers from some of his friends. The physics student then said, "I'm not sure of the validity of your proof, but I think I'll try to prove it by experiment." He continues, "Well, 1 is prime, 3 is prime, 5 is prime, 7 is prime, 9 is ... uh, 9 is an experimental error, 11 is prime, 13 is prime... Well, it seems that you're right." The third student to try it was the engineering student, who responded, "Well, actually, I'm not sure of your answer either. Let's see... 1 is prime, 3 is prime, 5 is prime, 7 is prime, 9 is ..., 9 is ..., well if you approximate, 9 is prime, 11 is prime, 13 is prime... Well, it does seem right." Not to be outdone, the computer science student comes along and says "Well, you two sort've got the right idea, but you'd end up taking too long doing it. I've just whipped up a program to REALLY go and prove it..." He goes over to his terminal and runs his program. Reading the output on the screen he says, "1 is prime, 1 is prime, 1 is prime, 1 is prime...." ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- Mathematician: 3 is a prime, 5 is a prime, 7 is a prime, 9 is not a prime - counter-example - claim is false. Physicist: 3 is a prime, 5 is a prime, 7 is a prime, 9 is an experimental error, 11 is a prime, ... Engineer: 3 is a prime, 5 is a prime, 7 is a prime, 9 is a prime, 11 is a prime, ... Computer scientist: 3's a prime, 5's a prime, 7's a prime, 7's a prime, 7's a prime, ... Computer scientist using Unix: 3's a prime, 5's a prime, 7's a prime, segmentation fault Gosh, they all overlooked that even 2's a prime!! I figure that 2 is the oddest prime of all, because it's the only one that's even!

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*This message was sent on 12 Apr 1996*