Monday, March 2, 2009

Knitting Math

In the January issue of the Notices of the American Mathematical Society, I fortuitously saw an A K Peters publishing ad for a new book by Daina Taimina titled Crocheting Adventures with Hyperbolic Planes. A whole book by an author of the paper I had previously found!  It wasn't then available, but I preordered a copy immediately, and today I excitedly received it.  This is a beautiful book, and I'm going to love it.  After flipping through and enjoying the multitude of pictures, the forward by William Thurston started off the reading experience perfectly.
Many people have an impression, based on years of schooling, that mathematics is an austere and formal subject concerned with complicated and ultimately confusing rules for the manipulation of numbers, symbols, and equations, rather like the preparation of a complicated income tax return, where there are myriad unexplained steps, rules, exceptions, and gotchas.
        Good mathematics is quite opposite to this. Mathematics is an art of human understanding.
My first impression is that this is a gentle, real-world-examples and hands on introduction to hyperbolic geometry.  My sneak peek also showed there's more crocheting projects for me to learn in Taimina's work, and I'll surely be breaking out my hook again.  I have to say I'm liking having this bridge between Sarah's and my interests.  

By the way, "Knitting Math" was how a friend of ours described my crocheting adventures to some others when the term hyperbolic plane slipped her mind. I thought it was great :)