A dog that solves calculus problems?

WINONA, Minn. — Dogs are called man’s best friend. They can get you your slippers, fetch a stick and apparently they can solve calculus problems.

Math professor Dr. Timothy Pennings and his dog Elvis demonstrated the feat at Winona State University Tuesday. Pennings discovered Elvis’ math smarts when he was playing catch with his dog in a lake.

A standard calculus problem is to find the quickest path from a point on shore to a point in the lake. When Pennings threw a ball in the lake, Elvis found the quickest path.


“The shortest distance would be or him to just swim straight there, but since he runs faster than he swims he knows he’ll get there faster if he runs along the beach and then goes in at an angle a little bit later on, and that’s what he does.  And when I did all the math calculations to figure out exactly where he should go into the water in order to get there in the shortest time it turns out he jumps into the water within about a foot of the optimal point each time,” says Dr. Timothy Pennings.

Dr. Pennings isn’t the only one who believes this. Several other scientists have written about this phenomenon.

Another scientist wrote about how dogs don’t need calculus and solved the whole mystery with algebra.