The human perceptual apparatus seems to make repeated use a few general
principles to make sense of the world. A big one is symmetry. Animal bodies
generally exhibit bilateral symmetry, for example; when they don't (as with
a flounder, for example, or owls' ears) we notice. Everyone will separate a
perfect circle from any less symmetric doodle, and a sphere from any less
The concept of symmetry has been clarified and generalized by mathematicians,
perhaps beginning with Plato and his solids. Different types of symmetry are
distinguished from each other and studied using the abstraction captured in
the concept of a "group."
This seminar will consider the phenomenon of symmetry, and how it enters
into art and music as well as mathematics and physics. Students will take
turns leading discussions of a range of topics over the term, using
resources mainly available on the web, and contribute to a document
recording these discussions.
We will scour the web and the MIT library for information about selected topics arising from unpacking the concept of symmetry, and come together weekly to discuss what we've discovered. Each week a pair of students will serve as discussion leaders, in collaboration with the faculty organizer. We will schedule a time to discuss the material with you beforehand. No "Psets" and no "Exams"!
But there will be a deliverable: We will create a manuscript together documenting what we have found, using Overleaf, a tool for collaborative creation of documents in LaTex. Here's a link to this document, available only to members of the class. I'm very excited to see how it develops. Many hands make light work!
The regular class meetings will occur on Wednesdays from 3:00 to 5:00 PM Eastern US time, in 2-255.
A couple of useful resources:
Paige Dote, firstname.lastname@example.org
Elizabeth Athaide, email@example.com
Howard Beck firstname.lastname@example.org
Nico Bulhof email@example.com
Brandon Chen firstname.lastname@example.org
Raul Hernandez email@example.com
Isaac Lopez firstname.lastname@example.org
Luis Modes email@example.com
Syd Robinson firstname.lastname@example.org
|Wed Sep 8||Ensemble||Symmetry, a general discussion||Fri Sep 17||Raul and Luis||Regular polyhedra and polytopes||Symmetries of Platonic solids and 4-dimensional analogues||Fri Sep 24||Nico and Syd||Friezes and wallpapers||Frieze patterns and Wallpaper patterns||Fri Oct 1||Elizabeth and Isaac||Hyperbolic isometries||Escher, Wikipedia, and Encycla.||Fri Oct 8||Howard and Brandon|