Performance math

Mathematicians are sometimes serious and stressed out creatures (as you may have seen at least in some of my previous posts). But we also like to share how much fun we have with mathematics. In particular, we enjoy being creative about our celebration of our love for mathematics. In this post, I wanted to quickly share some of the things that have entertained me recently related to this topic of performance of mathematics.

A friend of mine recently shared with me a video of an interpretive dance of a theorem in Diana Davis’ Ph.D. thesis. As her note under the video says, this was created for submission to the “Dance your Ph.D.” competition. I haven’t seen other submissions, but I really love this one.

This leads me to recommending Vi Hart’s website yet again. She makes beautifully edited videos on different math topics, and makes them really accessible to everyone. She actually comes from a mathematically artsy family. Her father being George Hart, a math sculptor and designer and one of the driving forces behind the Museum of Mathematics (although he has since left the project). MoMath is scheduled to open December 15 in New York City.

Another entertaining math performance I heard about recently (but was unable to attend) was MAA: The Musical!, presented during the opening banquet at MathFest 2012. The musical was written and directed by Annalisa Cranell, a professor at Franklin & Marshall. Unfortunately, I can’t find any videos of this performance, or even lyrics (I only found the lyrics to the closing number), so I guess I’ll have to attend the banquet at the next MathFest.

Also, in case these things interest you, a good place to look for more fun math stuff is the Journal of Humanistic Mathematics. It’s not all fun and games, but they do publish poems and math art among the other more serious humanistic math articles.

I can’t talk about having fun with mathematics without sharing my own experience in this area. I mentioned in a previous post that during Sage Days 42 we wrote a song parody of “Call Me, Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen, entitled “Sage Days, Baby”. Here is the video you have all been clamoring for. Enjoy. (Note: It is a high res video so it takes a while to load.)

So now I ask you to share your favorite artistic math endeavors. Do you have a fun video you want to share? Did you also dance your Ph.D.? Do you have math art or math poems or other parodies you are proud of? Tell us in the comments below!

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3 Responses to Performance math

  1. Diana says:

    Thanks for watching my PhD video; I’m glad you like it! It was a fun project, and very satisfying.

    For other people, if your thesis could be expressed through dance, even metaphorically, do consider trying to make a video of it. I learned a lot by stripping my theorem to its bare essentials, and by showing the video to many people in various stages of production, figuring out what they didn’t understand, and then improving the video accordingly.

  2. Allen Knutson says:

    One must mention The Klein Four Group’s A Finite Simple Group of Order 2.

  3. Octavio says:

    I actually composed the bass counterpoint of an unpublished (and unfinished) suite for a play featuring mathematics, using the results from my PhD thesis in mathematical counterpoint theory. If someone can get a full-fledged counterpoint theory, I would compose a new “Die Kunst der Fuga” some day.

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