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When Art and Math Mix It Up: A New Theory of Symmetry

Evening Program with Book Signing

Tuesday, August 4, 2015 - 6:45 p.m.
Code: 1C0052

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Welcome to the always-intriguing intersection of mathematics and art. Frank Farris introduces the mathematics of symmetry and how to create mind-blowing symmetrical images using waveforms. He came up with this concept by rejecting the traditional wisdom that wallpaper patterns must be built up from blocks—a sort of potato-stamp method. Instead, he created patterns from continuous waves. And that, he says, led to art.

Farris describes how complex numbers hold the key to constructing waveforms and relates this to other topics in symmetry, from color-reversing patterns to polyhedral and hyperbolic symmetry. He demonstrates how to combine waveforms with photographic images to construct beautifully symmetric patterns and also brings in advanced mathematics like group theory, functional analysis, and partial differential equations. All in all, his is a smooth way to throw you a mathematical curve.

Farris teaches mathematics at Santa Clara University. His book Creating Symmetry: The Artful Mathematics of Wallpaper Patterns (Princeton University Press) is available for signing after the program.


S. Dillon Ripley Center
1100 Jefferson Dr SW
Metro: Smithsonian (Mall exit)