Great Doodle Page – Mathematical Connections

Great Doodle Page

Great Doodle Page

Mathematical Connections

This component of the installation features sketches and doodles more than mathematical concepts or visualizations. The information below introduces the seven mathematicians featured, and provides links to sources where more information (in particular about their mathematical accomplishments) is available.

Celebrating women mathematicians

The border and the six different zones within the Doodle Page each celebrate a different woman mathematician; they belong to different disciplines as well as different epochs, but each is illustrated by drawings or doodles of her own hand.

Pentagonal Tiling

The border of the Doodle Page shows a tiling of the Euclidean plane by (nonregular but identical) pentagons by Marjorie Rice different from the one illustrated by the floor of the Bakery.

Great Doodle Page

However, several pairs of the small motifs have detached themselves and are roaming around; in some places they have even re-attached to sibling pairs, experimenting with configurations different from those they observed when in the tiling. And in each region, one of the pairs is colored with the fabrics used in the Cryptography quilt, using the same alphabetic correspondence as in the quilt border to indicate the initials of the mathematician to which the region refers (a link to the Cryprography quilt!) That includes this border: it includes in the top left a pair of blue pentagons colored MR. A more detailed article about Marjorie Rice by Doris Schattschneider can be found here.

Ada Lovelace

Top left region shows several drawings and sketches from a notebook by Ada Lovelace. They are borrowed (with permission from the copyright holder) from Folio 177 in Box 170 of the Lovelace-Byron family papers, on deposit in the Bodleian Library in Oxford. They can be viewed online on this page of the Clay Mathematics Institute.

Ursula Martin realized in 2020 that several of the sketches (reproduced on this section of the Doodle Page) are related to the Koenigsberg bridges problem, which had been shown by Euler to have no solution (in its original configuration), using an argument that involves graph theory “avant la lettre”. 

More information about Ada Lovelace can be found in Ada Lovelace: the making of a computer scientist, by Christopher Hollings, Ursula Martin and Adrian Rice.

Gladys West

The top right region shows two drawings from the hand of Gladys West, borrowed from one of her papers. Gladys West developed some of the mathematics crucial to establishing an accurate geostationary network of satellites, essential for GPS navigation.

Like the women celebrated in Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race , by Margot Lee Shetterly, Gladys is an African American mathematician who used her mathematical skills to carve out her own destiny. 

More information about Gladys West can be found in an article published in the Notices of the American Mathematical Society, and in the book It began with a dream, by Gladys West and M.H. Jackson.

Alicia Boole Stott

The doodles in the bottom middle region are copied from a paper by Alicia Boole Stott. Despite not having gone to university, she had an uncanny insight in 4-dimensional geometry. In particular, she constructed (not being aware that this had been done a bit earlier by professional mathematician Ludwig Schlaefli) all the regular polytopes in 4 dimensions – these are the 4-dimensional geometric objects that are equivalent to the Platonic solids in 3 dimensions. The colored figures show developments of 3-dimensional polytopes that are obtained as intersections of one of these 4-dimensional regular polytopes with a 3-dimensional hyperplane.

More information about Alicia Boole Stott (and her family) can be found in the article by Moira Chas in the Notices of the American Mathematical Society.

Maryam Mirzakhani

The doodles in the bottom middle region are copied from manuscript notes of Maryam Mirzakhani, the first woman to be awarded a Fields medal (at the International Congress of Mathematicians in 2014), considered by many to be the most prestigious award in mathematics.  Her work pertains to several subfields of geometry and low-dimensional topology. The Tribute to Maryam Mirzakhani on the website of the American Mathematical Society provides links to many articles with more information about her.

Sofya Kovelevskaya

The playful doodles in the bottom right region appear in notes by Sofya Kovelevskaya. She worked on Partial Differential Equations; in her thesis she proved a foundational theorem now named for her. She was the first woman to be granted a Ph.D. degree in mathematics, and the first to be a university professor.

The flowers and bugs she playfully doodled, embellishing a scratched-out part of her calculation, also appear on the cover of Remembering Sofya Kovalevskaya by Michèle Audin, which provides much more information about her.

Caroline Series

The drawings in the middle right region are by Caroline Series, who generously contributed them to the installation. Together with David Mumford and David Wright, Caroline Series authored Indra’s Pearls, which leads its reader to a hands-on understanding of Kleinian groups, showcasing (and explaining) beautiful figures obtained by iterating special transformations of the plane. The drawings in this section of the Doodle Page all pertain to topics covered in Indra’s Pearls.

More information about Caroline Series can be found here.

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