University of Calgary

Mathematics

September 16, 2010

Magic, origami and puzzles: the art of mathematics

Pushing Curves to the Limit by Erik Demaine and father, Martin Demaine, part of an exhibit at Peel Gallery in Houston, Texas.Pushing Curves to the Limit by Erik Demaine and father, Martin Demaine, part of an exhibit at Peel Gallery in Houston, Texas.Contributed by the Faculty of Science

Erik Demaine is a glassblower, Tetris master, magician, and mathematician, and has spent his life exploring the mysterious and fascinating relationships between art and geometry. Demaine, a Canadian now working at MIT, will bring math alive at this year's Richard and Louise Guy Lecture taking place at the University of Calgary on Thursday, Sept. 16, at 4 p.m. in Murray Fraser Hall, room 162.

When Demaine was six years old, he helped design puzzles with his father Martin Demaine. The Erik and Dad Puzzle Company distributed their work to toy stores across Canada. So began Erik's journey into the interactions between algorithms and the arts. His talk will examine how art inspires the mathematics and vice versa and he will provide examples, including how a font he helped design led to building robots and how studying curved creases in origami led to sculptures at MoMA, the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Erik Demaine was born in Halifax and entered Dalhousie University at the age of 12 and completed his BSc when only 14. His PhD dissertation at Waterloo, seminal in the field of computational origami, was awarded the Governor General's Gold Medal and the Canadian NSERC Doctoral Prize in 2003, for the best PhD thesis and research in Canada (one of four awards). Still in his twenties, Erik is already a professor at MIT with over 160 published papers.

Admission is free. The audience will be invited to participate in some live magic demonstrations.

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