The number one tool of any mathematician is the pencil. I know, some will argue that you prefer to use a pen. In fact, I had a professor in college who believed that “real mathematicians” used only pen. His argument was simple and logical: a pen records all of your ideas while a pencil encourages a more permanent destruction of your old ideas. And, how many of us mathematical hobbyists have erased our graphite errors only to realize later that we had the perfect idea ten attempts ago? (Of course, I never had the heart to provide him with the perfect counterexample to his argument … a pencil without an eraser. I guess I am too kind.)

Don’t get me wrong. I, too, enjoy using a pen to work on mathematics. In fact, I have a real love of fountain pens and nothing feels better than recording your ideas using one. However, the real workhorse of our subject is the pencil.

Where was I? Yes … the pencil. So, what is the perfect pencil? Well, again, the debate will rage on … some people love mechanical pencils and some people love wooden pencils. Mechanical pencils are cool and can fit in your pocket. Wooden pencils have a great smell and can fit behind your ear. Myself, I love both.

But, if I had to choose, the perfect pencil would be the Dixon Ticonderoga. Maybe it’s because it’s the pencil I grew up with or maybe it is the smooth writing, but nothing says math to me like that pencil.

Am I right? Am I wrong? Please leave me your comments on the perfect pencil.