Math ImageryThe connection between mathematics and art goes back thousands of years. Mathematics has been used in the design of Gothic cathedrals, Rose windows, oriental rugs, mosaics and tilings. Geometric forms were fundamental to the cubists and many abstract expressionists, and award-winning sculptors have used topology as the basis for their pieces. Dutch artist M.C. Escher represented infinity, Möbius bands, tessellations, deformations, reflections, Platonic solids, spirals, symmetry, and the hyperbolic plane in his works.

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Home > 2010 Mathematical Art Exhibition

"Embrace," by Robert Bosch (Oberlin College, Oberlin, OH)

2010 Mathematical Art Exhibition, First Prize.

Stainless steel and brass, Diameter = 6 inches, thickness = 0.25 inches, 2009. 2010 Mathematical Art Exhibition, First Prize. I began by converting a drawing of a two-component link into a symmetric collection of points. By treating the points as the cities of a Traveling Salesman Problem and adding constraints that forced the salesman's tour to be symmetric, I constructed a symmetric simple-closed curve that divides the plane into two pieces: inside and outside. With a water jet cutter, I cut along this Jordan curve through quarter-inch thick, six-inch diameter disks of steel and brass. By swapping inside pieces I obtained two copies of the sculpture. Here, steel is inside and brass is outside. All artists are optimizers. All artists try to perform a task--creating a piece of artwork--at the highest level possible. The main difference between me and other artists is that I use optimization explicitly. Here's how I work: After I get an idea for a piece, I translate the idea into a mathematical optimization problem. I then solve the problem, render the solution, and see if I'm pleased with the result. If I am, I stop. If not, I revise the mathematical optimization problem, solve it, render its solution, and examine it. Often, I need to go through many iterations to end up with a piece that pleases me. I do this out of a love of mathematical optimization--the theory, the algorithms, the numerous applications. --- Robert Bosch (Oberlin College, Oberlin, OH)

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American Mathematical Society