This picture by Greg Egan shows a hypercube with all vertices except the bottom labelled by duads, that is, 2-element subsets of a 6-element set. There are 15 duads, while the hypercube has 16 vertices.

# Heawood Graph

This is the Heawood graph. This graph can be drawn on a torus with no edges crossing in such a way that it divides the torus into 7 hexagons, each pair of which shares an edge. In 1890, Percy John Heawood proved that for any map drawn on a torus, it takes at most 7 colors to ensure that no two countries sharing a common boundary have the same color. The Heawood graph proves that the number 7 is optimal.

# Dyck Words

This picture by Tilman Piesk shows the 14 Dyck words of length 8. A Dyck word is a balanced string of left and parentheses. In the picture, a left parenthesis is shown as upward-slanting line segment, and a right parenthesis as a downward-slanting one.

# Petersen Graph

Suppose you have a set with 5 elements. There are 10 ways to choose a 2-element subset. Form a graph with these 10 choices as vertices, and with two vertices connected by an edge precisely when the corresponding subsets are disjoint. You get the graph shown here, called the Petersen graph.

# Lattice of Partitions

This picture by Tilman Piesk shows the 15 partitions of a 4-element set, ordered by refinement. Finer partitions are connected to coarser ones by lines going down. In the finest partition, on top, each of the 4 elements is in its own subset. In the coarsest one, on bottom, all 4 elements are in the same subset.

# Harmonic Orbit

The Kepler problem concerns a particle moving under the influence of gravity, like a planet moving around the Sun. Newton showed the orbit of such a particle is an ellipse, assuming it doesn’t fly off to infinity. There are many ways to prove this, but the most illuminating is to reparametrize time and think of the orbit as a circle in 4 dimensions. When the circle is projected down to 3-dimensional space, it becomes an ellipse. The animation in this post, created by Greg Egan, shows how this works.

# Twin Dodecahedra

Here Greg Egan has drawn two regular dodecahedra, in red and blue. They share 8 corners—and these are the corners of a cube, shown in green. Adrian Ocneanu calls these twin dodecahedra, and has proved some fascinating results about them.

# Branched Cover from (4 4 3/2) Schwarz Triangle

A Schwarz triangle is a spherical triangle that can be used to generate a tiling of a branched covering of the sphere by repeatedly reflecting this triangle across its edges. Sometimes we get an actual tiling of the sphere, but in general we get a branched covering, because the same point can lie in the interior of several triangles, and there may be branch points at the corners of the triangles.