"There's a delta for every epsilon"
Words and music by Tom Lehrer

copyright (c) 1951

This recording is posted here with permission from Tom Lehrer, Prof. Norman Ramsey (who made the recording), and all the cast members who are still living. You are encouraged to download it for your own use, and to notify others of the URL (web address) for this page, or the more general URL of this site.

You may not post the recording elsewhere on the internet, nor sell copies, nor modify the recording. All other rights are reserved.

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Vocals and piano by Tom Lehrer. Technical notes on the recording.

Explanation of the math in this song

There's a delta for every epsilon,
It's a fact that you can always count upon.
There's a delta for every epsilon
And now and again,
There's also an N.

But one condition I must give:
The epsilon must be positive
A lonely life all the others live,
In no theorem
A delta for them.

How sad, how cruel, how tragic,
How pitiful, and other adjec-
tives that I might mention.
The matter merits our attention.
If an epsilon is a hero,
Just because it is greater than zero,
It must be mighty discouragin'
To lie to the left of the origin.

This rank discrimination is not for us,
We must fight for an enlightened calculus,
Where epsilons all, both minus and plus,
Have deltas
To call their own.

These lyrics were printed in American Mathematical Monthly, vol. 81, p. 612 (1974).

Here is a video from 1997 of Mr. Lehrer performing this song.

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Background image: covers from some of Tom Lehrer's albums