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Humans 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."