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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Explorations beyond M336: the permutohedron

#maths #openuniversity

M336 is a two track level 3 Open University Mathematics Course with geometry track covering frieze- and wallpaper patterns, tilings and polyhedra, and a group theory track covering the Correspondence Theorem, the Sylow Theorems and the classification of Abelian groups. - When you are doing a course you are not only learning the course materials but it also broadens your view on the field. Well, I have seen quite a few new and ( fascinating ) topics lately.

Two short ones in this post and more to follow.

If you are into mathematics I bet that you have seen Inception, not that it is a mathematics movie per se but it is the type of movie math geeks love, I am sure. Anyway, do you remember the scene where Cobb and Ariadne walk on the Seine boulevard where she turns a mirror around and suddenly you see an infinite number of images. There is a name for the symmetry group of that pattern, it is a Dihedral Group with symbol $D_{\infty}$. Part of Group Theory is dedicated to studying that sort of groups, they are called Coxeter groups.

It took a while before I could dream the names of the five regular polyhedra: the tetrahedron, cube, octahedron, dodecahedron and isocahedron. But these are just the tip of the iceberg. There are enough familiar objects I don't know the name of. But there fascinating objects I never even heard of. Like the Permuatohedron for example: it is the n-dimensional generalization of a hexagon.


Exploring new territory in mathematics can be quite fascinating. A library ( brick and / or online ) is a good place to start.

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