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Ernst Eduard Kummer (1810-1893), a German algebraist, was rather poor at arithmetic. Whenever he had occasion to do simple arithmetic in class, he would get his students to help him. Once he had to find 7 x 9. “Seven times nine,” he began, “Seven times nine is er – ah – ah – seven times nine is. . . .”
“Sixty-one,” a student suggested.
Kummer wrote 61 on the board.
“Sir,” said another student, “it should be sixty-nine.” “Come, come, gentlemen, it can’t be both,” Kummer exclaimed. “It must be one or the other.”