Let no one call me an enemy of the arts

From San Francisco, CA, en route to UC Berkeley, Shtetl-Optimized is proud to bring you…


Winner of the 2007 Aaronson/Gasarch Complexity Theme Song Contest (beating out “You Down with SPP” and other audience favorites)

Da MP3, as recently recorded by “Homage the Halfrican Cracker.”
(Stage name of Dustin Lee, a singer and dance instructor based in Calgary, Canada.  Homage is currently a finalist for Best Song at the Calgary Folk Festival.  Here is his YouTube channel, and here are previews of his music.  Hey, you sing the greatest CS theory rap of all time, you get a free plug on Shtetl-Optimized.)

Lyrics by Aaron Sterling, 23 June 2007.
Inspired by Weird Al Yankovic’s “White & Nerdy.”
Original music and words by Chamillionaire, “Riding.”

They see me proving my theorem.
I know they’re all thinking I just do theory.
Think I just do theory.
Think I just do theory.
Can’t you see I just do theory?
Look at me, I just do theory!
I wanna code with the hackers
But so far they all think I just do theory.
Think I just do theory.
I just do theory.
I just do theory.
Really, truly, just do theory.

I wrote a program that solved TSP
Ain’t no such thing as lunch for free
When you’re digesting P-NP.
Unnatural proofs are my favorite vice
When I dream of solver’s paradise.
But my poor construction won’t suffice,
Even when I add Karp-Lipton advice.
Yo! There’s more to life than just systems!
Just too mathy? Quit your grumping.
I may not get the joint jumping
But my lemmas can do some pumping.
I declare to all my detractors
To exchange keys you need extractors.
You can’t improve with blind refactors.
You need me, not ten contractors.
Don’t know how to start an IDE
But I always win at compIP.
I’m a wizard bounding MA-E,
Playing games in PPAD.
My languages are always acceptable.
My LaTeX skills? They are impeccable.
My proofs are probabilistically checkable.
But what I compile just isn’t respectable.
You see, I just do theory.

They’re on RA, while I’m teaching.
That’s how they know that I just do theory.
Know I just do theory
Know I just do theory
I admit it, I just do theory.
Look at me, I just do theory.
I’d like to code with the hackers
Although it’s apparent I just do theory
Yes, I just do theory
Right, I just do theory
I just do theory.
Why is it I can just do theory?

I aced math classes in school.
One-Ten is my favorite rule.
Intractability’s really cool.
I’ve been unplugging while you were debugging.
Your Windows crashed, your hard disk’s whirring,
But my platforms all are Turing.
Not a lot of exceptions get thrown
Approximating Diophantines with twelve unknowns.
I’m the department’s main instructor.
When they need a course taught, who do they ask?
I’m always up to the task.
It beats sitting on my ass.
I’m trying to cold-start my social network
Saying “Busy Beaver” with a smirk.
In galleries I troll, in weblogs I lurk.
But it’s hard to reach Big O if you won’t tell the world hello.
My grandest conceit is that my brain is PSPACE-complete.
My calculus is lambda and my math is discrete.
The only problem that ever made me halt
Was whether Samson or Delilah won by default.
My theorem statements are ungrounded.
All my measures are resource-bounded.

They see me struggling at runtime.
They feel sorry because I just do theory.
Yes, it’s true, I just do theory.
Yes, it’s true, I just do theory.
All because I just do theory.
BQP, I just do theory.
I wanna code with the hackers
But oh well, they can tell I just do theory.
I just do theory.
I just do theory.
Yes, I just do theory.
QED, I just do theory.

(everybody shout) Box!

[Here’s the PDF.  Thanks so much to Aaron and Homage for the permission.  After this song goes viral, and gets ten times more hits than Susan Boyle, just remember: you heard it here first.  Peace out, BQP-dawg]

15 Responses to “Let no one call me an enemy of the arts”

  1. Dave Says:

    My personal favourite:
    Kill Dash Nine

  2. mikero Says:

    I was totally feelin’ it until he said “Pee-Ess-Pace complete”

  3. Scott Says:

    mikero: Yeah, I wasn’t groovin’ to that either, but I let it go since the correct pronunciation wouldn’t have fit the meter.

  4. Luca Says:

    Now somebody just has to come up with the right choreography for group dance (a la Crank That)

  5. Shahab Says:

    You know, the difference between this song and Boyle’s song is not that much. After all, there is only finitely many people on earth and so they both fall in the same complexity class 😉

  6. JeffE Says:

    “Box”? “BOX”?!

    Alice, please! It’s pronounced halmos.

  7. Scott Says:


  8. KaoriBlue Says:

    I was concerned your site had been hacked… well until I saw the lyrics. 🙂

  9. Joe Fitzsimons Says:

    The first time I listened to it, I could have sworn they shouted FOCS at the end. Truely an excellent song.

  10. asdf Says:

    ttto “Heartbreak Hotel”

    Since my baby left me,
    I’ve had a new place to dwell,
    Its floors go to infinity, it’s the
    Hilbert Hotel.

    One night a weary traveller
    Came knockin’ at the door,
    Since every room was occupied,
    They moved everyone up one floor.


  11. rrtucci Says:

    my bride asked me to make love to her
    Sorry, sweetheart, I just do it in theory

    I asked someone in the real world to employ me,
    He said hiring theorists is a bad theory

    Scott, as usual, will erase me in 3 seconds

  12. Jair Says:

    The real controversy here is the correct pronunciation of “LaTeX”. My former real analysis professor prefers “lawtech”.

    If you haven’t seen it, I’m sure you’d appreciate the song “Finite Simple Group of Order Two”. It’s the most romantic abstract algebra song I’ve ever heard.

  13. asdf Says:

    There is also the Stanislaw Lem classic (translated from Polish by Michael Kandel):

    Come, let us hasten to a higher plane
    Where dyads tread the fairy fields of Venn,
    Their indices bedecked from one to n
    Commingled in an endless Markov chain!

    Come, every frustum longs to be a cone
    And every vector dreams of matrices.
    Hark to the gentle gradient of the breeze:
    It whispers of a more ergodic zone.

    In Riemann, Hilbert or in Banach space
    Let superscripts and subscripts go their ways.
    Our asymptotes no longer out of phase,
    We shall encounter, counting, face to face.

    I’ll grant thee random access to my heart,
    Thou’lt tell me all the constants of thy love;
    And so we two shall all love’s lemmas prove,
    And in our bound partition never part.

    For what did Cauchy know, or Christoffel,
    Or Fourier, or any Boole or Euler,
    Wielding their compasses, their pens and rulers,
    Of thy supernal sinusoidal spell?

    Cancel me not – for what then shall remain?
    Abscissas some mantissas, modules, modes,
    A root or two, a torus and a node:
    The inverse of my verse, a null domain.

    Ellipse of bliss, converge, O lips divine!
    the product of four scalars it defines!
    Cyberiad draws nigh, and the skew mind
    Cuts capers like a happy haversine.

    I see the eigenvalue in thine eye,
    I hear the tender tensor in thy sigh.
    Bernoulli would have been content to die,
    Had he but known a2 cos 2 phi!

  14. Geordie Says:

    adjective / verb


    1. Negative: crazy or weird. Mostly this is meant (Alternate form of “weak,” i.e. uncool.)
    2. Rubbish/Not cool: “That shit is wack”
    3. One of the oldest hip hop slangs to date “The Wack” meaning: not good. (e.g. your crew is the wack)

  15. Giso Says:

    mikero said: I was totally feelin’ it until he said “Pee-Ess-Pace complete”

    Yeah, I stumbled on the exact same thing. However, the problem could be solved by pronouncing it “Pee-‘-Space”, that is, put a musical rest in the middle.