Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Symmetries of Things

Human have used symmetrical patterns for thousands of years in both functional and decorative ways. Now, a new book by three mathematicians offers both math experts and enthusiasts a new way to understand symmetry and a fresh way to see the world. In The Symmetries of Things, eminent Princeton mathematician John H. Conway teams up with Chaim Goodman-Strauss of the University of Arkansas and Heidi Burgiel of Bridgewater State College to present a comprehensive mathematical theory of symmetry in a richly illustrated volume. The book is designed to speak to those with an interest in math, artists, working mathematicians and researchers.

“Symmetry and pattern are fundamentally human preoccupations in the same way that language and rhythm are. Any culture that is making anything has ornament and is preoccupied with this visual rhythm,” Goodman-Strauss said. “There are actually Neolithic examples of many of these patterns. The fish-scale pattern, for example, is 22,000 years old and shows up all over the world in all kinds of contexts.” Symmetrical objects and patterns are everywhere. In nature, there are flowers composed of repeating shapes that rotate around a central point. Architects trim buildings with friezes that repeat design elements over and over. Mathematicians, according to Goodman-Strauss, are latecomers to the human fascination with pattern. While mathematicians bring their own particular concerns, “we’re also able to say things that other people might not be able to say. “The symmetries of Things contribute a new system of notation or descriptive categories for symmetrical patterns and a host of new proofs. The first section of the book is written to be accessible to a general reader with interest in the subject. Sections two and three are aimed at mathematicians and experts in the field. The entire book, Goodman-Strauss said, “is meant to be engaging and reveal itself visually as well.” 

Book Information:

Authors: John Horton Conway, Heidi Burgiel, Chaim Goodman- Strauss
Publisher: A K Peters Ltd
Keywords: things, symmetries
Number of Pages: 448
Published: 2008-05-02
List price: $75.00
ISBN-10: 1568812205
ISBN-13: 9781568812205

EBook link here.


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