CoM | Maps of Strange Worlds: Beyond the Four-Color Theorem

Thursday January 21, 2021
– Live Presentation with Susan Goldstine –

For published CoM presentations please visit the G4G YouTube channel

In 1852, a math student posed a deceptively simple-sounding question: if you want to color a map so that bordering regions always have different colors, how many colors do you need?  This opened a rabbit hole that has kept mathematicians, computer scientists, and philosophers occupied for over a century, igniting a fundamental debate about how we know what is true.  The central result of this exploration is the Four-Color Theorem.

If your rabbit hole takes a proverbial right turn at Albuquerque, you find a collection of worlds more complex than our own, worlds where aspiring map makers need many more than four colors.  We will take a tour of these worlds through artists’ renditions in yarn, beads, ceramics, and other media.  The journey features visual and conceptual delights for all audiences, regardless of mathematical background.

Dr. Susan Goldstine is currently Steven Muller Distinguished Professor of the Sciences at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, where she has been a mathematics professor since 2004.  For the past decade, her artworks have appeared in mathematical art exhibits across the US and around the world.  Together with computer scientist and artist Dr. Ellie Baker, she is coauthor of the 2014 book Crafting Conundrums: Puzzles and Patterns for the Bead Crochet Artist, which collects their extensive research on mathematical bead crochet.  Susan is a member of the Bridges Organization Board of Directors and an Associate Editor for the Journal of Mathematics and the Arts. Her guiding principle is that a professor’s office can never have too many toys.

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