Utterly inspired by the header image of the Cairo tessellation (Jonas’s 2/4 post), I’ve been slightly obsessed by street tiling these days. On a recent Friday when the weather was simply gorgeous, I, along with my dog, Basil, decided to go tile-hunting in our neighborhood. None seemed to have “notable mathematical properties” (or do they?) as the Cairo tessellation does, but some were very pretty. The winner of the day (for me) was the one in the middle, the tiling you can find in front of the Smithonian Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum on East 91st Street and 5th Avenue (currently closed for renovation). The yellow-ish colored herringbone pattern was mesmerizing, and I was standing there for a while looking down on the sidewalk.

Three questions: 1) Math indeed seems to be everywhere. Can mathematicians enjoy walking around without being distracted every 5 seconds?; 2) Can “pretty” be expressed in math? How?; and 3) Can you guess where the other two photos are from?

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I like the tiles. Not sure if I understand what else is going on with the tiles and shoes 🙂 Fascinating though.

Thank you for sharing this information! Many mathematicians have a strong sense of “pretty” or “elegant” theorems 🙂

wow great post reverse mortgage About the header image – A reprise

Thank you for sharing this information! By the way, I love your Converse and the way you take a pict too. Nice idea!

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? Many mathematicians have a strong sense of “pretty” or “elegant” theorems — especially when they give a flash of clarity or simplicity to an otherwise confusing or complicated subject.

Thank you very good.

Hai dear, Thank you so much for the post you do. I did like your post.

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Pattern + Symmetry+average=Harmony=Beauty=pretty. Can Anybody improves this equation, or adding something else???

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Mari — great post! And I like the way your shoes give a nice reference for scale. You’re right – I often do get distracted thinking about patterns. I like your question about beauty, and I do think symmetry is an important one — but it’s also true that our eye, and our attention, is often captured by the asymmetries we see. It’s also interesting to turn it in on itself — what makes beautiful mathematics? Many mathematicians have a strong sense of “pretty” or “elegant” theorems — especially when they give a flash of clarity or simplicity to an otherwise confusing or complicated subject.

-Jonas

One non-CUNY friend (who cannot leave a comment) emailed me: “I think as per evolution research pretty is symmetrical and regular (see also golden section).” Yes, symmetry and average, some say, are keys to attractiveness.