Wednesday, March 22, 2006

What's a five-letter word for "Surfaces of genus zero with three boundary cycles"?

Any situation can be made humorous (or more so, if it's already funny) by the addition or subtraction of pants or monkeys. At least, so said a dear friend of mine several years ago. I'm inclined to believe him.

As far as I know, there is no mathematical object known as a monkey; until last night, I thought the same was true of pants. As this nomenclature is due to W. Thurston, it has been suggested that they should be called Thurstonian pant-pairs.

A colleague of mine has written a paper on the subject.

Heegaard Splittings and the Pants Complex
J. Johnson

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