Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Simple Math Yields Intricate Visual Patterns

Polynomials, the meat and potatoes of high-school algebra, are foundational to many aspects of quantitative science. But it would take a particularly enthusiastic math teacher to think of these trusty workhorses as beautiful.

As with so many phenomena, however, what is simple and straightforward in a single serving becomes intricately detailed—beautiful, even—in the collective.

On December 5 John Baez, a mathematical physicist at the University of California, Riverside, posted a collection of images of polynomial roots by Dan Christensen, a mathematician at the University of Western Ontario, and Sam Derbyshire, an undergraduate student at the University of Warwick in England.

Polynomials are mathematical expressions that in their prototypical form can be described by the sum or product of one or more variables raised to various powers.

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