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A mathematician decided he was sick of math, and decided to become a fireman instead. So, he went down to the fire department and announced that he wanted to become a fireman.
The fire chief said, "Well, you look like an okay guy. I'd be glad to hire you, if you can pass this little test."
The fire chief led the mathematcian into an alley behind the fire station which contained a dumpster, a spigot, and a hose. Then the chief said, "Imagine that you're walking in the alley and you see this dumpster is on fire. What would you do?"
As quick as a flash, the mathematician replied "I'd hook up the hose to the spigot, turn the water on, and put out the fire."
"Good answer," the fire chief said. "Now I have to ask just more one question. What would you do if you were walking down the alley and you saw the dumpster was not on fire?"
The mathematician thought about this for a while, scratched his head, and then finally said, "I'd set fire to the dumpster."
"What?" yelled the chief. "That's just dumb! Why would you set fire to the dumpster?"
"Well, that way I reduce the problem to one that I've already solved."
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