The January 2016 issue
of Scientific American ran an article by Clara Moskowitz titled "Elegant Equations"
that presented a few prints from "The Concinnitas Project"
which "...is a collection of ten aquatints produced from the contributions of ten mathematicians and physicists in response
to the prompt to transcribe their 'most beautiful mathematical expression.'" The renowned mathematicians and scientists
who contributed to the project are Michael Atiyah,
Richard Karp, Peter Lax, David Mumford,
Stephen Smale, and
My personal favorite is "Ampère's Law," by
Simon Donaldson, because it incorporates a simple line drawing along with the familiar equations. It brings back memories
of sitting in electromagnetics class at the University of Vermont watching my seriously brilliant professor
Dr. Kenneth Golden, draw boundary value problems on the chalkboard and write out formulas and proofs
- all from memory. Aside: Dr. Golden always had an office full of students during office hours, during which he would work
out any problem in the text book (Field
and Wave Electromagnetics) as easily as most of us perform simple addition.
Next in order of most liked
is "Newton's Method,"
by Stephen Smale. I remember learning about Newton's Method in a differential equations class, even though, technically,
it is not itself a differential equation. Newton's
Method (Wikipedia) provides a means of estimating successively closer approximations to
the roots (or zeroes) of a real-valued (i.e., non-imaginary) function. You begin with a 'best guess' and proceed with calculations.
As with most methods of convergence, this is fraught with traps that could cause the result to eventually attempt to divide
by zero, or go off in a completely erroneous direction. It has been the subject of much attention.
Richard Karp's entry of "P Versus NP" immediately reminded me of Charlie Epps, the boy genius mathematician in the television
show NUMB3ERS whose goal in life was to solve
the P = NP quandary. I can solve it for the trivial case where N = 1 ;-)
Surprisingly, Maxwell's Equations was not chosen by any of the ten participants.
As the unwilling victim of societal sensitivity after being constantly bombarded with messages of how my type - white,
heterosexual male - is responsible for all the world's evils, I feel duty-bound to point out that unless one of these ten
mathematicians and scientists is self-identifying as otherwise in order to gain access to
Target bathrooms, all are, well, old white guys.
Bob Feldman regarding The Concinnitas Project: "The
portfolio draws its name from a word famously used by the Renaissance scholar, artist, architect, and philosopher Leon Battista
Alberti (1404-1472) to connote the balance of number, outline, and position (in essence, number geometry, and topology)
that he believed characterize a beautiful work of art."
Posted May 16, 2016