Small n Oddities

I have a class with 20 students. Exactly half of them have last names beginning with either “H” or “S,” with each of those names being exactly half of that half.

It’s a really weird set of names to put into alphabetical order when I’m sorting their quizzes and assignments. I can’t stop expecting to see other letters.

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About J@m3z Aitch

J@m3z Aitch is a two-bit college professor who'd rather be canoeing.
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8 Responses to Small n Oddities

  1. Troublesome Frog says:

    My freshman microecon class had 25 students in it. Twelve of them were male. Of those 12, five of them had my first name. I also lived in an apartment where 3 out of 4 of us shared the same first name. Annoying.

    Not really the same thing, but something neat that causes similarly interesting patterns in numbers is Benford’s Law.

  2. One of my sons has a very unusual given name. As in, he’s only ever met one person who also has that name. That person was his roommate his junior year.

    Don’t try to tell me that Residence Life doesn’t have a twisted sense of humor.

  3. J@m3z Aitch says:

    D.C.,
    Do you have a boy named Sue?

  4. Not quite that unusual — Alaric.
    Interestingly, the third American I know of with that name is PZ’s son, very nearly the same age as mine.

  5. Matty says:

    Some friends of mine were looking for a name for their unborn son, they said they wanted a name that was both traditionally English and ‘manly’. Unfortunately my suggestion of Beowulf was not accepted.

  6. J@m3z Aitch says:

    Matty, you’re my kind of guy.

    D.C., does he shorten it to Al, or does he go by Alaric generally?

  7. pierrecorneille says:

    That situation would probably drive me nuts if I noticed it.

    I don’t know why, but if I notice unexpected symmetries or patterns that are too neat, I get really disturbed. That often happens when I read a book and, for example, each chapter (or a lot of successive chapters) ends on an even or odd numbered page, or more than one or two pages in a row ends with the end of a paragraph (instead of the paragraph continuing over to the next page).

  8. D.C., does he shorten it to Al, or does he go by Alaric generally?

    The kids (Kids? The youngest is 28 and married!) don’t do diminutives — all three go by their full given names, although sometimes my daughter’s name gets shortened by a syllable from three to two. Best I can tell, the only people who do that are her father and her husband.

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