Mathematician’s Guide to Vest Removal

Our latest math video demo stars Harvard undergraduate Ryan Heffrin who demonstrates how to remove one’s vest without removing one’s overcoat. It’s a good party trick!

It’s fun to try to do that without watching the video first, but even after seeing the video, it can still be a bit of a challenge to figure out.

Another good exercise to try is to close your eyes and imagine the whole process. I’m always one to point out another chance to exercise the mind’s eye!

If you enjoy this sort of thing, you’ll probably enjoy disentanglement puzzles of which this is a human-sized example.

For more mathematical tricks of this nature, check out Martin Gardner’s book Mathematics Magic and Mystery. In fact, he describes vest removal there on page 87 although he begins: “First unbutton the vest.” Notice that Ryan succeeds without un-zipping hers! Also, notice how Ryan never pulls her fists into her sleeves (although there are times when she does put one of her fists up the other sleeve).

Special thanks to Claudia Meyer and Clara Chan for recording Scott Joplin’s The Entertainer¬†for this video!

Mathematician’s Guide to Vest Removal
Starring Ryan Heffrin.
Music: Scott Joplin’s The Entertainer performed by Claudia Meyer and Clara Chan
Filmed and edited by Elisenda Grigsby and Ken Fan.
Corporate funding provided by Big George Ventures.
Produced by Girls’ Angle.


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We're a math club for girls.
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