Tuesday, February 13, 2018

A Titan of the Field

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — m759 @ 9:45 AM

On the late Cambridge astronomer Donald Lynden-Bell —

"As an academic at a time when students listened and lecturers lectured, he had the disconcerting habit of instead picking on a random undergraduate and testing them on the topic. One former student, now a professor, remembered how he would 'ask on-the-spot questions while announcing that his daughter would solve these problems at the breakfast table'.

He got away with it because he was genuinely interested in the work of his colleagues and students, and came to be viewed with great affection by them. He also got away with it because he was well established as a titan of the field."

The London Times  on Feb. 8, 2018, at 5 PM (British time)

Related material —

Two Log24 posts from yesteday, Art Wars and The Void.

See as well the field GF(9)


and the 3×3 grid as a symbol of Apollo
    (an Olympian rather than a Titan) —


Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Unpleasantly Discursive

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 10:12 PM

Background for the remarks of Koen Thas in the previous post —
Schumacher and Westmoreland, "Modal Quantum Theory" (2010).

Related material —

" There is a pleasantly discursive treatment 
of Pontius Pilate’s unanswered question
‘What is truth?’ "

— Coxeter, 1987, introduction to Trudeau’s
     The Non-Euclidean Revolution

The whole  truth may require an unpleasantly  discursive treatment.

Example —

1. The reported death on Friday, Jan. 5, 2018, of a dancer
     closely associated with George Balanchine

2. This journal on Friday, Jan. 5, 2018:

3. Illustration from a search related to the above dancer:

4. "Per Mare Per Terras" — Clan slogan above, illustrated with
     what looks like a cross-dagger.

    "Unsheathe your dagger definitions." — James Joyce.

5. Discursive remarks on quantum theory by the above
    Schumacher and Westmoreland:

6. "How much story do you want?" — George Balanchine

Wednesday, August 9, 2017


Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — m759 @ 9:48 PM

For those whose only interest in mathematics
is as a path to the occult —

See also Coxeter's Aleph.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Athens Meets Jerusalem . . .

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — m759 @ 9:00 AM

At the Googleplex .

For those whose only interest in higher mathematics
is as a path to the occult

Plato's Diamond and the Hebrew letter Aleph —


and some related (if only graphically) mathematics —

Click the above image for some related purely mathematical  remarks.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Narrative for Westworld

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — m759 @ 12:12 PM

“That corpse you planted
          last year in your garden,
  Has it begun to sprout?
          Will it bloom this year?  
  Or has the sudden frost
          disturbed its bed?”

— T. S. Eliot, “The Waste Land

Coxeter exhuming Geometry

Ball and Coxeter, 'Mathematical Recreations,' Twelfth Edition

Click the book for a video.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Cultist Space

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — m759 @ 6:29 PM

The image of art historian Rosalind Krauss in the previous post
suggests a review of a page from her 1979 essay "Grids" —

The previous post illustrated a 3×3 grid. That  cultist space does
provide a place for a few "vestiges of the nineteenth century" —
namely, the elements of the Galois field GF(9) — to hide.
See Coxeter's Aleph in this journal.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Tetrahedral Cayley-Salmon Model

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — m759 @ 9:38 AM

The figure below is one approach to the exercise
posted here on December 10, 2016.

Tetrahedral model (minus six lines) of the large Desargues configuration

Some background from earlier posts —

IMAGE- Geometry of the Six-Set, Steven H. Cullinane, April 23, 2013

Click the image below to enlarge it.

Polster's tetrahedral model of the small Desargues configuration

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Two Models of the Small Desargues Configuration

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — m759 @ 12:00 PM

Click image to enlarge.

Polster's tetrahedral model of the small Desargues configuration

See also the large  Desargues configuration in this journal.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Memory, History, Geometry

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — m759 @ 9:48 AM

These are Rothko's Swamps .

See a Log24 search for related meditations.

For all three topics combined, see Coxeter —

" There is a pleasantly discursive treatment 
of Pontius Pilate’s unanswered question
‘What is truth?’ "

— Coxeter, 1987, introduction to Trudeau’s
     The Non-Euclidean Revolution

Update of 10 AM ET —  Related material, with an elementary example:

Posts tagged "Defining Form." The example —

IMAGE- Triangular models of the 4-point affine plane A and 7-point projective plane PA

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The Thirteenth Novel

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — m759 @ 4:00 PM

John Updike on Don DeLillo's thirteenth novel, Cosmopolis

" DeLillo’s post-Christian search for 'an order at some deep level'
has brought him to global computerization:
'the zero-oneness of the world, the digital imperative . . . . ' "

The New Yorker , issue dated March 31, 2003

On that date ….

Related remark —

" There is a pleasantly discursive treatment 
of Pontius Pilate’s unanswered question
‘What is truth?’ "

— Coxeter, 1987, introduction to Trudeau’s
     The Non-Euclidean Revolution

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Square Ice

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 9:00 AM

The discovery of "square ice" is discussed in
Nature 519, 443–445 (26 March 2015).

Remarks related, if only by squareness —
this  journal on that same date, 26 March 2015

The above figure is part of a Log24 discussion of the fact that 
adjacency in the set of 16 vertices of a hypercube is isomorphic to
adjacency in the set of 16 subsquares of a square 4×4 array
provided that opposite sides of the array are identified.  When
this fact was first  observed, I do not know. It is implicit, although
not stated explicitly, in the 1950 paper by H.S.M. Coxeter from
which the above figure is adapted (blue dots added).

Friday, May 6, 2016

ART WARS continues…

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 11:00 AM

"Again, in spite of that, we call this Friday good."
— T. S. Eliot, Four Quartets

From this journal on Orthodox Good Friday, 2016,
an image from New Scientist  on St. Andrew's Day, 2015 —

From an old Dick Tracy strip —

See also meditations from this year's un -Orthodox Good Friday
in a Tennessee weblog and in this  journal

" There is a pleasantly discursive treatment 
of Pontius Pilate’s unanswered question
‘What is truth?’ ”

— Coxeter, 1987, introduction to Trudeau’s
     The Non-Euclidean Revolution

Friday, March 25, 2016

Pleasantly Discursive

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 10:00 AM

Toronto geometer H.S.M. Coxeter, introducing a book by Unitarian minister
Richard J. Trudeau —

"There is a pleasantly discursive treatment of Pontius Pilate’s
unanswered question ‘What is truth?’”

— Coxeter, 1987, introduction to Trudeau’s
     The Non-Euclidean Revolution

Another such treatment

"Of course, it will surprise no one to find low standards
of intellectual honesty on the Tonight Show.

But we find a less trivial example if we enter the
hallowed halls of Harvard University. . . ."

— Neal Koblitz, "Mathematics as Propaganda"

Less pleasantly and less discursively —

"Funny how annoying a little prick can be."
— The late Garry Shandling

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

A Geometric Glitter

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — m759 @ 11:10 AM

"In the planes that tilt hard revelations on
The eye, a geometric glitter, tiltings …."

— Wallace Stevens, "Someone Puts a Pineapple Together" (1947)

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Priest Logic for Frodo

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 12:00 AM

Elijah Wood in "The Last Witch Hunter" —

See Graham Priest in this journal.

See also Coxeter + Discursive.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Borromean Generators

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — m759 @ 4:10 AM

From slides dated June 28, 2008

Compare to my own later note, from March 4, 2010 —

It seems that Guitart discovered these "A, B, C" generators first,
though he did not display them in their natural setting,
the eightfold cube.

Some context: The epigraph to my webpage
"A Simple Reflection Group of Order 168" —

"Let G  be a finite, primitive subgroup of GL(V) = GL(n,D) ,
where  is an n-dimensional vector space over the
division ring D . Assume that G  is generated by 'nice'
transformations. The problem is then to try to determine
(up to GL(V) -conjugacy) all possibilities for G . Of course,
this problem is very vague. But it is a classical one,
going back 150 years, and yet very much alive today."

— William M. Kantor, "Generation of Linear Groups,"
pp. 497-509 in The Geometric Vein: The Coxeter Festschrift ,
published by Springer, 1981 

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Coordinatization Problem

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 1:06 AM

There are various ways to coordinatize a 3×3 array
(the Chinese "Holy Field'). Here are some —

See  Cullinane,  Coxeter,  and  Knight tour.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

A Word to the Wise:

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 12:00 PM


Related material:

From the website of the American Mathematical Society today,
a column by John Baez that was falsely backdated to Sept. 1, 2015 —

Compare and contrast this Baez column 
with the posts in the above
Log24 search for "Symplectic."

Updates after 9 PM ET Sept. 17, 2015 —

Related wrinkles in time: 

Baez's preceding Visual Insight  post, titled 
"Tutte-Coxeter Graph," was dated Aug. 15, 2015.
This seems to contradict the AMS home page headline
of Sept. 5, 2015, that linked to Baez's still earlier post
"Heawood Graph," dated Aug. 1. Also, note the 
reference in "Tutte-Coxeter Graph" to Baez's related 
essay — dated August 17, 2015 — 

Monday, August 17, 2015

Modern Algebra Illustrated

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 10:06 AM

For illustrations based on the above equations, see
Coxeter and the Relativity Problem  and Singer 7-Cycles .

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Man and His Symbols

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 2:24 PM


A post of July 7, Haiku for DeLillo, had a link to posts tagged "Holy Field GF(3)."

As the smallest Galois field based on an odd prime, this structure 
clearly is of fundamental importance.  

The Galois field GF(3)

It is, however, perhaps too  small  to be visually impressive.

A larger, closely related, field, GF(9), may be pictured as a 3×3 array

hence as the traditional Chinese  Holy Field.

Marketing the Holy Field

IMAGE- The Ninefold Square, in China 'The Holy Field'

The above illustration of China's  Holy Field occurred in the context of
Log24 posts on Child Buyers.   For more on child buyers, see an excellent
condemnation today by Diane Ravitch of the U. S. Secretary of Education.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

The Holy Field

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 7:45 PM

( A Chinese designation for the 3×3 square )

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Möbius Hypercube

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — m759 @ 12:31 AM

The incidences of points and planes in the
Möbius 8 configuration (8 points and 8 planes,
with 4 points on each plane and 4 planes on each point),
were described by Coxeter in a 1950 paper.* 
A table from Monday's post summarizes Coxeter's
remarks, which described the incidences in
spatial terms, with the points and planes as the vertices
and face-planes of two mutually inscribed tetrahedra —

Monday's post, "Gallucci's Möbius Configuration,"
may not be completely intelligible unless one notices
that Coxeter has drawn some of the intersections in his 
Fig. 24, a schematic representation of the point-plane
incidences, as dotless, and some as hollow dots.  The figure,
"Gallucci's version of Möbius's 84," is shown below.
The hollow dots, representing the 8 points  (as opposed
to the 8 planes ) of the configuration, are highlighted in blue.

Here a plane  (represented by a dotless intersection) contains
the four points  that are represented in the square array as lying
in the same row or same column as the plane. 

The above Möbius incidences appear also much earlier in
Coxeter's paper, in figures 6 and 5, where they are shown
as describing the structure of a hypercube. 

In figures 6 and 5, the dotless intersections representing
planes have been replaced by solid dots. The hollow dots
have again been highlighted in blue.

Figures 6 and 5 demonstrate the fact that adjacency in the set of
16 vertices of a hypercube is isomorphic to adjacency in the set
of 16 subsquares of a square 4×4 array, provided that opposite
sides of the array are identified, as in Fig. 6. The digits in 
Coxeter's labels above may be viewed as naming the positions 
of the 1's in (0,1) vectors (x4, x3, x2, x1) over the two-element
Galois field.  In that context, the 4×4 array may be called, instead
of a Möbius hypercube , a Galois tesseract .

*  "Self-Dual Configurations and Regular Graphs," 
    Bulletin of the American Mathematical Society,
    Vol. 56 (1950), pp. 413-455

The subscripts' usual 1-2-3-4 order is reversed as a reminder
    that such a vector may be viewed as labeling a binary number 
    from 0  through 15, or alternately as labeling a polynomial in
    the 16-element Galois field GF(24).  See the Log24 post
     Vector Addition in a Finite Field (Jan. 5, 2013).

Monday, March 23, 2015

Gallucci’s Möbius Configuration

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — m759 @ 12:05 PM

From H. S. M. Coxeter's 1950 paper
"Self-Dual Configurations and Regular Graphs," 
a 4×4 array and a more perspicuous rearrangement—

(Click image to enlarge.) 

The above rearrangement brings Coxeter's remarks into accord
with the webpage The Galois Tesseract.

Update of Thursday, March 26, 2015 —

For an explanation of Coxeter's Fig. 24, see Thursday's later
post titled "The Möbius Hypercube."

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Gray Space

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 9:48 PM

Art Wars  view —
image from a post at noon on Saturday, April 12:

Kansas City view:

Review of Seeing Gray , a book by pastor Adam Hamilton
of the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection
in Leawood, Kansas, a suburb of Kansas City—

“Adam Hamilton invites us to soulful gray space
between polarities, glorious gray space that is holy,
mysterious, complex, and true. Let us find within
our spirits the courage and humility to live and learn
in this faithful space, to see gray, to discern a more
excellent way.”

Review by United Methodist Bishop Hope Morgan Ward

The above quotation was suggested by the following from today’s
online Kansas City Star :

“Two of the victims were 14-year-old Reat Griffin Underwood
and his grandfather, William Lewis Corporon, who attended the
United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood.

The Rev. Adam Hamilton, the church’s senior pastor, shared
the news with church members at the beginning of the evening
Palm Sunday service.”

Update of 10:48 PM — A related photo:

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

For April 1

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — m759 @ 2:02 PM

IMAGE- 'American Hustle' and Art Cube

Or:  Extremely Gray Code

Related material:  Spaces as Hypercubes

Monday, March 31, 2014

Art Wars for Coxeter

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 10:30 PM

Geometer H. S. M. Coxeter died on this date in 2003.

This evening’s daily number from the Keystone state:   822.

IMAGE- Review of 'Geometry of the I Ching'

Monday, March 10, 2014

Strategic Hamlets

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 10:00 PM

From an obituary for a Kennedy advisor
who reportedly died at 94 on February 23, 2014*—

“He favored withdrawing rural civilians
into what he called ‘strategic hamlets’
and spraying defoliants to cut off
the enemy’s food supply.”

Other rhetoric:  Hamlet and Infinite Space  in this journal,
as well as King of Infinite Space , Part I and Part II.

These “King” links, to remarks on Coxeter  and  Saniga ,
are about two human beings to whom Hamlet’s
phrase “king of infinite space” has been applied.

The phrase would, of course, be more accurately
applied to God.

* The date of the ‘God’s Architecture’ sermon
at Princeton discussed in this afternoon’s post.

Sunday, March 2, 2014


Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 11:00 AM

Raiders of the Lost  (Continued)

“Socrates: They say that the soul of man is immortal….”

From August 16, 2012

In the geometry of Plato illustrated below,
“the figure of eight [square] feet” is not ,  at this point
in the dialogue, the diamond in Jowett’s picture.

An 1892 figure by Jowett illustrating Plato’s Meno

A more correct version, from hermes-press.com —

Socrates: He only guesses that because the square is double, the line is double.Meno: True.

Socrates: Observe him while he recalls the steps in regular order. (To the Boy.) Tell me, boy, do you assert that a double space comes from a double line? Remember that I am not speaking of an oblong, but of a figure equal every way, and twice the size of this-that is to say of eight feet; and I want to know whether you still say that a double square comes from double line?

[Boy] Yes.

Socrates: But does not this line (AB) become doubled if we add another such line here (BJ is added)?

[Boy] Certainly.

Socrates: And four such lines [AJ, JK, KL, LA] will make a space containing eight feet?

[Boy] Yes.

Socrates: Let us draw such a figure: (adding DL, LK, and JK). Would you not say that this is the figure of eight feet?

[Boy] Yes.

Socrates: And are there not these four squares in the figure, each of which is equal to the figure of four feet? (Socrates draws in CM and CN)

[Boy] True.

Socrates: And is not that four times four?

[Boy] Certainly.

Socrates: And four times is not double?

[Boy] No, indeed.

Socrates: But how much?

[Boy] Four times as much.

Socrates: Therefore the double line, boy, has given a space, not twice, but four times as much.

[Boy] True.

Socrates: Four times four are sixteen— are they not?

[Boy] Yes.

As noted in the 2012 post, the diagram of greater interest is
Jowett’s incorrect  version rather than the more correct version
shown above. This is because the 1892 version inadvertently
illustrates a tesseract:

A 4×4 square version, by Coxeter in 1950, of  a tesseract

This square version we may call the Galois  tesseract.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

For Phil Everly

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 10:00 AM

A Souther song at YouTube.

See also the lyrics and, in this journal,
synchronicity on the uploading date.

Related art —

End of the Line Blues

IMAGE- YouTube statistics: 384 views, 3 thumbs up, 0 down.

and The Crosswicks Curse

IMAGE- The full group of hypercube symmetries, including both rotations and reflections, is of order 384.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Raiders of the Lost Theorem

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — m759 @ 11:30 AM

IMAGE- The 'atomic square' in Lee Sallows's article 'The Lost Theorem'

Yes. See

The 48 actions of GL(2,3) on a 3×3 coordinate-array A,
when matrices of that group right-multiply the elements of A,
with A =

(1,1) (1,0) (1,2)
(0,1) (0,0) (0,2)
(2,1) (2,0) (2,2)

Actions of GL(2,p) on a pxp coordinate-array have the
same sorts of symmetries, where p is any odd prime.

Note that A, regarded in the Sallows manner as a magic square,
has the constant sum (0,0) in rows, columns, both diagonals, and  
all four broken diagonals (with arithmetic modulo 3).

For a more sophisticated approach to the structure of the
ninefold square, see Coxeter + Aleph.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — m759 @ 6:45 AM

IMAGE- 'Devil Music' from 'Kaleidoscopes- Selected Writings of H.S.M. Coxeter'


20 pages of incidental music written at school
for G. K. Chesterton's play MAGIC

by D. Coxeter."

See also

Related material —  Chesterton + Magic in this journal.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Pattern Grammar

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 10:31 AM

Yesterday afternoon's post linked to efforts by
the late Robert de Marrais to defend a mathematical  
approach to structuralism and kaleidoscopic patterns. 

Two examples of non-mathematical discourse on
such patterns:

1.  A Royal Society paper from 2012—

Click the above image for related material in this journal.

2.  A book by Junichi Toyota from 2009—

Kaleidoscopic Grammar: Investigation into the Nature of Binarism

I find such non-mathematical approaches much less interesting
than those based on the mathematics of reflection groups . 

De Marrais described the approaches of Vladimir Arnold and,
earlier, of H. S. M. Coxeter, to such groups. These approaches
dealt only with groups of reflections in Euclidean  spaces.
My own interest is in groups of reflections in Galois  spaces.
See, for instance, A Simple Reflection Group of Order 168

Galois spaces over fields of characteristic 2  are particularly
relevant to what Toyota calls binarism .

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Story of N

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — m759 @ 9:00 PM

(Continued from this morning)


The above stylized "N," based on
an 8-cycle in the 9-element Galois field
GF(9), may also be read as
an Aleph.

Graphic designers may prefer a simpler,
bolder version:

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Broken Tablet

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — m759 @ 3:33 AM

This post was suggested by a search for the
Derridean phrase "necessary possibility"* that
led to web pages on a conference at Harvard
on Friday and Saturday, March 26**-27, 2010,
on Derrida and Religion .

The conference featured a talk titled
"The Poetics of the Broken Tablet."

I prefer the poetics of projective geometry.

An illustration— The restoration of the full
15-point "large" Desargues configuration in
place of the diminished 10-point Desargues
configuration that is usually discussed.

IMAGE- The proof of the converse of Desargues' theorem involves a third triangle.

Click on the image for further details.

* See a discussion of this phrase in
  the context of Brazilian religion.

** See also my own philosophical reflections
   on Friday, March 26, 2010:
   "You Can't Make This Stuff Up." 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Raiders of the Lost Aleph

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — m759 @ 9:00 AM

See Coxeter + Aleph in this journal.

Epigraph to "The Aleph," a 1945 story by Borges:

"O God! I could be bounded in a nutshell,
and count myself a King of infinite space…"
– Hamlet, II, 2

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Large Desargues Configuration

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — m759 @ 9:25 AM

Desargues' theorem according to a standard textbook:

"If two triangles are perspective from a point
they are perspective from a line."

The converse, from the same book:

"If two triangles are perspective from a line
they are perspective from a point."

Desargues' theorem according to Wikipedia
combines the above statements:

"Two triangles are in perspective axially  [i.e., from a line]
if and only if they are in perspective centrally  [i.e., from a point]."

A figure often used to illustrate the theorem,
the Desargues configuration , has 10 points and 10 lines,
with 3 points on each line and 3 lines on each point.

A discussion of the "if and only if" version of the theorem
in light of Galois geometry requires a larger configuration—
15 points and 20 lines, with 3 points on each line
and 4 lines on each point.

This large  Desargues configuration involves a third triangle,
needed for the proof   (though not the statement ) of the
"if and only if" version of the theorem. Labeled simply
"Desargues' Theorem," the large  configuration is the
frontispiece to Volume I (Foundations)  of Baker's 6-volume
Principles of Geometry .

Point-line incidence in this larger configuration is,
as noted in a post of April 1, 2013, described concisely
by 20 Rosenhain tetrads  (defined in 1905 by
R. W. H. T. Hudson in Kummer's Quartic Surface ).

The third triangle, within the larger configuration,
is pictured below.

IMAGE- The proof of the converse of Desargues' theorem involves a third triangle.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Desargues via Rosenhain

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — m759 @ 6:00 PM

Background: Rosenhain and Göpel Tetrads in PG(3,2)


The Large Desargues Configuration

Added by Steven H. Cullinane on Friday, April 19, 2013

Desargues' theorem according to a standard textbook:

"If two triangles are perspective from a point
they are perspective from a line."

The converse, from the same book:

"If two triangles are perspective from a line
they are perspective from a point."

Desargues' theorem according to Wikipedia 
combines the above statements:

"Two triangles are in perspective axially  [i.e., from a line]
if and only if they are in perspective centrally  [i.e., from a point]."

A figure often used to illustrate the theorem, 
the Desargues configuration , has 10 points and 10 lines,
with 3 points on each line and 3 lines on each point.

A discussion of the "if and only if" version of the theorem
in light of Galois geometry requires a larger configuration—
15 points and 20 lines, with 3 points on each line 
and 4 lines on each point.

This large  Desargues configuration involves a third triangle,
needed for the proof   (though not the statement ) of the 
"if and only if" version of the theorem. Labeled simply
"Desargues' Theorem," the large  configuration is the
frontispiece to Volume I (Foundations)  of Baker's 6-volume
Principles of Geometry .

Point-line incidence in this larger configuration is,
as noted in the post of April 1 that follows
this introduction, described concisely 
by 20 Rosenhain tetrads  (defined in 1905 by
R. W. H. T. Hudson in Kummer's Quartic Surface ).

The third triangle, within the larger configuration,
is pictured below.

IMAGE- The proof of the converse of Desargues' theorem involves a third triangle.



A connection discovered today (April 1, 2013)—

(Click to enlarge the image below.)

Update of April 18, 2013

Note that  Baker's Desargues-theorem figure has three triangles,
ABC, A'B'C', A"B"C", instead of the two triangles that occur in
the statement of the theorem. The third triangle appears in the
course of proving, not just stating, the theorem (or, more precisely,
its converse). See, for instance, a note on a standard textbook for 
further details.

(End of April 18, 2013 update.)

Update of April 14, 2013

See Baker's Proof (Edited for the Web) for a detailed explanation 
of the above picture of Baker's Desargues-theorem frontispiece.

(End of April 14, 2013 update.)

Update of April 12, 2013

A different figure, from a site at National Tsing Hua University,
shows the three triangles of Baker's figure more clearly:

IMAGE- Desargues' theorem with three triangles, and Galois-geometry version

(End of update of April 12, 2013)

Update of April 13, 2013

Another in a series of figures illustrating
Desargues's theorem in light of Galois geometry:
IMAGE- Veblen and Young 1910 Desargues illustration, with 2013 Galois-geometry version

See also the original Veblen-Young figure in context.

(End of update of April 13, 2013)

Rota's remarks, while perhaps not completely accurate, provide some context
for the above Desargues-Rosenhain connection.  For some other context,
see the interplay in this journal between classical and finite geometry, i.e.
between Euclid and Galois.

For the recent  context of the above finite-geometry version of Baker's Vol. I
frontispiece, see Sunday evening's finite-geometry version of Baker's Vol. IV
frontispiece, featuring the Göpel, rather than the Rosenhain, tetrads.

For a 1986 illustration of Göpel and Rosenhain tetrads (though not under
those names), see Picturing the Smallest Projective 3-Space.

In summary… the following classical-geometry figures
are closely related to the Galois geometry PG(3,2):

Volume I of Baker's Principles  
has a cover closely related to 
the Rosenhain tetrads in PG(3,2)
Volume IV of Baker's Principles 
has a cover closely related to
the Göpel tetrads in PG(3,2) 
(click to enlarge)




Higher Geometry
(click to enlarge)





Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Crosswicks Curse

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — m759 @ 4:00 PM


From the prologue to the new Joyce Carol Oates
novel Accursed

"This journey I undertake with such anticipation
is not one of geographical space but one of Time—
for it is the year 1905 that is my destination.

1905!—the very year of the Curse."

Today's previous post supplied a fanciful link
between the Crosswicks Curse of Oates and
the Crosswicks tesseract  of Madeleine L'Engle.

The Crosswicks Curse according to L'Engle
in her classic 1962 novel A Wrinkle in Time —

"There is  such a thing as a tesseract."

A tesseract is a 4-dimensional hypercube that
(as pointed out by Coxeter in 1950) may also 
be viewed as a 4×4 array (with opposite edges

Meanwhile, back in 1905

For more details, see how the Rosenhain and Göpel tetrads occur naturally
in the diamond theorem model of the 35 lines of the 15-point projective
Galois space PG(3,2).

See also Conwell in this journal and George Macfeely Conwell in the
honors list of the Princeton Class of 1905.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Vector Addition in a Finite Field

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — m759 @ 10:18 AM

The finite (i.e., Galois) field GF(16),
according to J. J. Seidel in 1974—

The same field according to Steven H. Cullinane in 1986,
in its guise as the affine 4-space over GF(2)—

The same field, again disguised as an affine 4-space,
according to John H. Conway and N.J.A. Sloane in
Sphere Packings, Lattices, and Groups , first published in 1988—

The above figure by Conway and Sloane summarizes, using
a 4×4 array, the additive vector-space structure of the finite
field GF(16).

This structure embodies what in Euclidean space is called
the parallelogram rule for vector addition—

(Thanks to June Lester for the 3D (uvw) part of the above figure.)

For the transition from this colored Euclidean hypercube
(used above to illustrate the parallelogram rule) to the
4×4 Galois space (illustrated by Cullinane in 1979 and
Conway and Sloane in 1988— or later… I do not have
their book’s first edition), see Diamond Theory in 1937,
Vertex Adjacency in a Tesseract and in a 4×4 Array,
Spaces as Hypercubes, and The Galois Tesseract.

For some related narrative, see tesseract  in this journal.

(This post has been added to finitegeometry.org.)

Update of August 9, 2013—

Coordinates for hypercube vertices derived from the
parallelogram rule in four dimensions were better
illustrated by Jürgen Köller in a web page archived in 2002.

Update of August 13, 2013—

The four basis vectors in the 2002 Köller hypercube figure
are also visible at the bottom of the hypercube figure on
page 7 of “Diamond Theory,” excerpts from a 1976 preprint
in Computer Graphics and Art , Vol. 2, No. 1, February 1977.
A predecessor:  Coxeter’s 1950 hypercube figure from
Self-Dual Configurations and Regular Graphs.”

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Web Links:

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 5:01 PM

Spidey Goes to Church

More realistically

  1. "Nick Bostrom is a Swedish philosopher at 
    St. Cross College, University of Oxford…."
  2. "The early location of St Cross was on a site in
    St Cross Road, immediately south of St Cross Church."
  3. "The church building is located on St Cross Road
    just south of Holywell Manor."
  4. "Balliol College has had a presence in the area since
    the purchase by Benjamin Jowett, the Master, in the 1870s
    of the open area which is the Balliol sports ground
    'The Master's Field.' "
  5. Leaving Wikipedia, we find a Balliol field at Log24:
  6. A different view of the same field, from 1950—
  7. A view from 1974, thanks to J. J. Seidel — 
  8. Yesterday's Analogies.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Eve’s Menorah

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — m759 @ 9:00 PM

"Now the serpent was more subtle
than any beast of the field…."
Genesis 3:1

"“The serpent’s eyes shine
As he wraps around the vine….”
Don Henley

"Nine is a vine."
Folk rhyme

Part I

Part II

Part III

Halloween 2005

The image “http://log24.com/log/pix03/030109-gridsmall.gif” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Click images for some background.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 12:25 PM

The non-Coxeter simple reflection group of order 168
is a counterexample to the statement that
"Every finite reflection group is a Coxeter group."

The counterexample is based on a definition of "reflection group"
that includes reflections defined over finite fields.

Today I came across a 1911 paper that discusses the counterexample.
Of course, Coxeter groups were undefined in 1911, but the paper, by
Howard H. Mitchell, discusses the simple order-168 group as a reflection group .

A review of this topic might be appropriate for Jessica Fintzen's 2012 fall tutorial at Harvard
on reflection groups and Coxeter groups. The syllabus for the tutorial states that
"finite Coxeter groups correspond precisely to finite reflection groups." This statement
is based on Fintzen's definition of "reflection group"—

"Reflection groups are— as their name indicates—
groups generated by reflections across
hyperplanes of Rn which contain the origin."

For some background, see William Kantor's 1981 paper "Generation of Linear Groups"
(quoted at the finitegeometry.org page on the simple order-168 counterexample).
Kantor discusses Mitchell's work in some detail, but does not mention the
simple order-168 group explicitly.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Cube Review

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — m759 @ 3:00 PM

Last Wednesday's 11 PM post mentioned the
adjacency-isomorphism relating the 4-dimensional 
hypercube over the 2-element Galois field GF(2) to
the 4×4 array made up of 16 square cells, with
opposite edges of the 4×4 array identified.

A web page illustrates this property with diagrams that
enjoy the Karnaugh property— adjacent vertices, or cells,
differ in exactly one coordinate. A brief paper by two German
authors relates the Karnaugh property to the construction
of a magic square like that of Dürer (see last Wednesday).

In a similar way (search the Web for Karnaugh + cube ),
vertex adjacency in the 6-dimensional hypercube over GF(2) 
is isomorphic to cell adjacency in the 4x4x4 cube, with
opposite faces of the 4x4x4 cube identified.

The above cube may be used to illustrate some properties
of the 64-point Galois 6-space that are more advanced
than those studied by enthusiasts of "magic" squares
and cubes.


Those who prefer narrative to mathematics may
consult posts in this journal containing the word "Cuber."

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Kummer and the Cube

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — m759 @ 7:11 PM

Denote the d-dimensional hypercube by  γd .

"… after coloring the sixty-four vertices of  γ6
alternately red and blue, we can say that
the sixteen pairs of opposite red vertices represent
the sixteen nodes of Kummer's surface, while
the sixteen pairs of opposite blue vertices
represent the sixteen tropes."

— From "Kummer's 16," section 12 of Coxeter's 1950
    "Self-dual Configurations and Regular Graphs"

Just as the 4×4 square represents the 4-dimensional
hypercube  γ4  over the two-element Galois field GF(2),
so the 4x4x4 cube represents the 6-dimensional
hypercube  γ6  over GF(2).

For religious interpretations, see
Nanavira Thera (Indian) and
I Ching  geometry (Chinese).

See also two professors in The New York Times
discussing images of the sacred in an op-ed piece
dated Sept. 26 (Yom Kippur).

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Art Wars (continued)

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 8:00 PM

Today's previous post, "For Odin's Day," discussed 
a mathematical object, the tesseract, from a strictly
narrative point of view.

In honor of George Balanchine, Odin might yield the
floor this evening to Apollo.

From a piece in today's online New York Times  titled
"How a God Finds Art (the Abridged Version)"—

"… the newness at the heart of this story,
in which art is happening for the first time…."

Some related art

IMAGE- Figure from Plato's Meno in version by Benjamin Jowett, Master of Balliol College, Oxford

and, more recently

This more recent figure is from Ian Stewart's 1996 revision 
of a 1941 classic, What Is Mathematics? , by Richard Courant
and Herbert Robbins.

Apollo might discuss with Socrates how the confused slave boy
of Plato's Meno  would react to Stewart's remark that

"The number of copies required to double an
 object's size depends on its dimension."

Apollo might also note an application of Socrates' Meno  diagram
to the tesseract of this afternoon's Odin post


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Raiders of the Lost Tesseract

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — m759 @ 8:00 PM

(Continued from August 13. See also Coxeter Graveyard.)

Coxeter exhuming Geometry

Here the tombstone says
"GEOMETRY… 600 BC — 1900 AD… R.I.P."

In the geometry of Plato illustrated below,
"the figure of eight [square] feet" is not , at this point
in the dialogue, the diamond in Jowett's picture.

An 1892 figure by Jowett illustrating Plato's Meno

Jowett's picture is nonetheless of interest for
its resemblance to a figure drawn some decades later
by the Toronto geometer H. S. M. Coxeter.

A similar 1950 figure by Coxeter illustrating a tesseract

For a less scholarly, but equally confusing, view of the number 8,
see The Eight , a novel by Katherine Neville.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Galois Tesseract

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — m759 @ 11:00 PM


The three parts of the figure in today's earlier post "Defining Form"—

IMAGE- Hyperplanes (square and triangular) in PG(3,2), and coordinates for AG(4,2)

— share the same vector-space structure:

   0     c     d   c + d
   a   a + c   a + d a + c + d
   b   b + c   b + d b + c + d
a + b a + b + c a + b + d   a + b + 
  c + d

   (This vector-space a b c d  diagram is from  Chapter 11 of 
    Sphere Packings, Lattices and Groups , by John Horton
    Conway and N. J. A. Sloane, first published by Springer
    in 1988.)

The fact that any  4×4 array embodies such a structure was implicit in
the diamond theorem (February 1979). Any 4×4 array, regarded as
a model of the finite geometry AG(4, 2), may be called a Galois tesseract.
(So called because of the Galois geometry involved, and because the
16 cells of a 4×4 array with opposite edges identified have the same
adjacency pattern as the 16 vertices of a tesseract (see, for instance,
Coxeter's 1950 "Self-Dual Configurations and Regular Graphs," figures
5 and 6).)

A 1982 discussion of a more abstract form of AG(4, 2):


The above 1982 remarks by Brouwer may or may not have influenced
the drawing of the above 1988 Conway-Sloane diagram.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Olympics Special

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — m759 @ 7:20 PM

Quoted in some remarks yesterday on geometry—

IMAGE- Eric Temple Bell on 'Solomon's Seal' as a 'highly special topic'

From posts linked to this morning—

IMAGE- 'Jewel in the Crown'- MAA version of the Crown of Geometry

The Source— 

IMAGE- Coxeter as King of Geometry

Thursday, June 21, 2012


Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 12:00 PM

From Tony Rothman's review of a 2006 book by
Siobhan Roberts

"The most engaging aspect of the book is its
chronicle of the war between geometry and algebra,
which pits Coxeter, geometry's David, against
Nicolas Bourbaki, algebra's Goliath."

The conclusion of Rothman's review—

"There is a lesson here."

Related material: a search for Galois geometry .

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

What is Truth? (continued)

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 11:01 PM

"There is a pleasantly discursive treatment of
 Pontius Pilate's unanswered question 'What is truth?'"
— H. S. M. Coxeter, 1987

Returning to the Walpurgisnacht posts
Decomposition (continued) and
Decomposition– Part III —

Some further background…


(Not  a Scholastic Aptitude Test)

"In computer sciencesatisfiability (often written
in all capitals or abbreviated 
SAT) is the problem
of determining if the variables of a given 
 formula can be assigned in such a way as to
make the formula evaluate to TRUE."

— Wikipedia article Boolean satisfiability problem

For the relationship of logic decomposition to SAT,
see (for instance) these topics in the introduction to—

Advanced Techniques in Logic Synthesis,
Optimizations and Applications* 

Click image for a synopsis.

* Edited by Sunil P. Khatri and Kanupriya Gulati

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Meanwhile, back in 1950…

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — m759 @ 10:30 AM

See also Solomon's Cube.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Coxeter and the Relativity Problem

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 12:00 PM

In the Beginning…

"As is well known, the Aleph is the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet."
– Borges, "The Aleph" (1945)

From some 1949 remarks of Weyl—

"The relativity problem is one of central significance throughout geometry and algebra and has been recognized as such by the mathematicians at an early time."

Hermann Weyl, "Relativity Theory as a Stimulus in Mathematical Research," Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society , Vol. 93, No. 7, Theory of Relativity in Contemporary Science: Papers Read at the Celebration of the Seventieth Birthday of Professor Albert Einstein in Princeton, March 19, 1949  (Dec. 30, 1949), pp. 535-541

Weyl in 1946—:

"This is the relativity problem: to fix objectively a class of equivalent coordinatizations and to ascertain the group of transformations S mediating between them."

— Hermann Weyl, The Classical Groups , Princeton University Press, 1946, p. 16

Coxeter in 1950 described the elements of the Galois field GF(9) as powers of a primitive root and as ordered pairs of the field of residue-classes modulo 3—

"… the successive powers of  the primitive root λ or 10 are

λ = 10,  λ2 = 21,  λ3 = 22,  λ4 = 02,
λ5 = 20,  λ6 = 12,  λ7 = 11,  λ8 = 01.

These are the proper coordinate symbols….

(See Fig. 10, where the points are represented in the Euclidean plane as if the coordinate residue 2 were the ordinary number -1. This representation naturally obscures the collinearity of such points as λ4, λ5, λ7.)"


Coxeter's Figure 10 yields...


The Aleph

The details:

(Click to enlarge)


Coxeter's phrase "in the Euclidean plane" obscures the noncontinuous nature of the transformations that are automorphisms of the above linear 2-space over GF(3).

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Ninth Configuration

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 2:01 PM

The showmanship of Nicki Minaj at Sunday's
Grammy Awards suggested the above title, 
that of a novel by the author of The Exorcist .

The Ninth Configuration 

The ninth* in a list of configurations—

"There is a (2d-1)d  configuration
  known as the Cox configuration."

MathWorld article on "Configuration"

For further details on the Cox 326 configuration's Levi graph,
a model of the 64 vertices of the six-dimensional hypercube γ6  ,
see Coxeter, "Self-Dual Configurations and Regular Graphs,"
Bull. Amer. Math. Soc.  Vol. 56, pages 413-455, 1950.
This contains a discussion of Kummer's 166 as it 
relates to  γ6  , another form of the 4×4×4 Galois cube.

See also Solomon's Cube.

* Or tenth, if the fleeting reference to 113 configurations is counted as the seventh—
  and then the ninth  would be a 153 and some related material would be Inscapes.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — m759 @ 12:21 PM

“… a finite set with  elements
is sometimes called an n-set ….”

Tesseract formed from a 4-set—

IMAGE- Tesseract.

The same 16 subsets or points can
be arranged in a 4×4 array that has,
when the array’s opposite edges are
joined together, the same adjacencies
as those of the above tesseract.

“There is  such a thing as a 4-set.”
— Saying adapted from a novel   

Update of August 12, 2012:

Figures like the above, with adjacent vertices differing in only one coordinate,
appear in a 1950 paper of H. S. M. Coxeter—

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Sweet Smell of Avon

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 9:48 AM

IMAGE- NY Times on 'Narrowing the Definition of Autism'

The twin topics of autism and of narrowing definitions
suggested the following remarks.

The mystical number "318" in the pilot episode
of Kiefer Sutherland's new series about autism, "Touch,"
is so small that it can easily apply (as the pilot
illustrated) to many different things: a date, a
time, a bus number, an address, etc.

The last 3/18 Log24 post— Defining Configurations
led, after a false start and some further research,
to the writing of the webpage Configurations and Squares.

An image from that page—

IMAGE- Coxeter 3x3 array with rows labeled 287/501/346.

Interpreting this, in an autistic manner, as the number
287501346 lets us search for more specific items
than those labeled simply 318.

The search yields, among other things, an offer of
Night Magic Cologne  (unsold)—

IMAGE- Online offer of Avon Night Magic Cologne- 'The mystery and magic of the night is yours.'

For further mystery and magic, see, from the date
the Night Magic offer closed— May 8, 2010— "A Better Story."
See also the next day's followup, "The Ninth Gate."

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Sunday Shul

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 9:00 AM

"… myths are stories, and like all narratives
they unravel through time, whereas grids
are not only spatial to start with,
they are visual structures that explicitly reject
a narrative or sequential reading of any kind."

— Rosalind Krauss in "Grids,"
October  (Summer 1979), 9: 50-64.


The image “http://www.log24.com/theory/images/grid3x3.gif” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

The Ninefold Square

See Coxeter and the Aleph and Ayn Sof

Mathematics and Narrative, Illustrated


Friday, November 18, 2011

Hypercube Rotations

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 12:00 PM

The hypercube has 192 rotational symmetries.
Its full symmetry group, including reflections,
is of order 384.

See (for instance) Coxeter


Related material—

The rotational symmetry groups of the Platonic solids
(from April 25, 2011)—

Platonic solids' symmetry groups

— and the figure in yesterday evening's post on the hypercube


(Animation source: MIQEL.com)

Clearly hypercube rotations of this sort carry any
of the eight 3D subcubes to the central subcube
of a central projection of the hypercube—


The 24 rotational symmeties of that subcube induce
24 rigid rotations of the entire hypercube. Hence,
as in the logic of the Platonic symmetry groups
illustrated above, the hypercube has 8 × 24 = 192
rotational symmetries.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Thing Itself

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 11:29 AM

Suggested by an Oct. 18 piece in the Book Bench section
of the online New Yorker  magazine—



Related material suggested by the "Shouts and Murmurs" piece
in The New Yorker , issue dated Oct. 24, 2011—

"a series of e-mails from a preschool teacher planning to celebrate
the Day of the Dead instead of Halloween…"

A search for Coxeter + Graveyard in this journal yields…

Coxeter exhuming Geometry

Here the tombstone says "GEOMETRY… 600 BC — 1900 AD… R.I.P."

A related search for Plato + Tombstone yields an image from July 6, 2007…

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix06A/061019-Tombstones.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Here Plato's poems to Aster suggested
the "Star and Diamond" tombstone.

The eight-rayed star is an ancient symbol of Venus
and the diamond is from Plato's Meno .

The star and diamond are combined in a figure from
12 AM on September 6th, 2011—

The Diamond Star


See Configurations and Squares.

That webpage explains how Coxeter
united the diamond and the star.

Those who prefer narrative to mathematics may consult
a definition of the Spanish word lucero  from March 28, 2003.

Monday, October 10, 2011


Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 10:00 AM

See last year's Day of the Tetraktys.

Those who prefer Hebrew to Greek may consult Coxeter and the Aleph.

See also last midnight's The Aleph as well as Saturday morning's
An Ordinary Evening in Hartford and Saturday evening's
For Whom the Bell (with material from March 20, 2011).

For connoisseurs of synchronicity, there is …


Cached from http://mrpianotoday.com/tourdates.htm —
The last concert of Roger Williams — March 20, 2011 —

   March 20

"Roger Williams" In Concert,
The Legendary Piano Man!!
Roger Williams & his Band
(Sierra Ballroom)

Palm Desert, CA    

Background music… Theme from "Somewhere in Time"

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Starring the Diamond

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 2:02 PM

"In any geometry satisfying Pappus's Theorem,
the four pairs of opposite points of 83
are joined by four concurrent lines.
— H. S. M. Coxeter (see below)

Continued from Tuesday, Sept. 6

The Diamond Star


The above is a version of a figure from Configurations and Squares.

Yesterday's post related the the Pappus configuration to this figure.

Coxeter, in "Self-Dual Configurations and Regular Graphs," also relates Pappus to the figure.

Some excerpts from Coxeter—


The relabeling uses the 8 superscripts
from the first picture above (plus 0).
The order of the superscripts is from
an 8-cycle in the Galois field GF(9).

The relabeled configuration is used in a discussion of Pappus—


(Update of Sept. 10, 2011—
Coxeter here has a note referring to page 335 of
G. A. Miller, H. F. Blichfeldt, and L. E. Dickson,
Theory and Applications of Finite Groups , New York, 1916.)

Coxeter later uses the the 3×3 array (with center omitted) again to illustrate the Desargues  configuration—


The Desargues configuration is discussed by Gian-Carlo Rota on pp. 145-146 of Indiscrete Thoughts

"The value  of Desargues' theorem and the reason  why the statement of this theorem has survived through the centuries, while other equally striking geometrical theorems have been forgotten, is in the realization that Desargues' theorem opened a horizon of possibilities  that relate geometry and algebra in unexpected ways."

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Cosmic Part

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — m759 @ 6:29 PM

Yesterday's midday post, borrowing a phrase from the theology of Marvel Comics,
offered Rubik's mechanical contrivance as a rather absurd "Cosmic Cube."

A simpler candidate for the "Cube" part of that phrase:


The Eightfold Cube

As noted elsewhere, a simple reflection group* of order 168 acts naturally on this structure.

"Because of their truly fundamental role in mathematics,
even the simplest diagrams concerning finite reflection groups
(or finite mirror systems, or root systems—
the languages are equivalent) have interpretations
of cosmological proportions."

Alexandre V. Borovik in "Coxeter Theory: The Cognitive Aspects"

Borovik has a such a diagram—


The planes in Borovik's figure are those separating the parts of the eightfold cube above.

In Coxeter theory, these are Euclidean hyperplanes. In the eightfold cube, they represent three of seven projective points that are permuted by the above group of order 168.

In light of Borovik's remarks, the eightfold cube might serve to illustrate the "Cosmic" part of the Marvel Comics phrase.

For some related theological remarks, see Cube Trinity in this journal.

Happy St. Augustine's Day.

* I.e., one generated by reflections : group actions that fix a hyperplane pointwise. In the eightfold cube, viewed as a vector space of 3 dimensions over the 2-element Galois field, these hyperplanes are certain sets of four subcubes.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Aleph, the Lottery, and the Eightfold Way

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 4:00 AM

Three links with a Borges flavor—

Related material

The 236 in yesterday evening's NY lottery may be
 viewed as the 236 in March 18's Defining Configurations.
For some background, see Configurations and Squares.

A new illustration for that topic—


This shows a reconcilation of the triples described by Sloane
 in Defining Configurations with the square geometric
arrangement described by Coxeter in the Aleph link above.

Note that  the 56 from yesterday's midday NY lottery
describes the triples that appear both in the Eightfold Way
link above and also in a possible source for
the eight triples of  Sloane's 83 configuration—


The geometric square arrangement discussed in the Aleph link
above appears in a different, but still rather Borgesian, context
in yesterday morning's Minimalist Icon.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Minimalist Icon

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 6:48 AM

The source of the mysterious generic
3×3 favicon with one green cell


— has been identified.

For minimalists, here is a purer 3×3 matrix favicon—


This may, if one likes, be viewed as the "nothing"
present at the Creation.  See Jim Holt on physics.

See also Visualizing GL(2,p), Coxeter and the Aleph, and Ayn Sof.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Groups Acting

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — m759 @ 10:10 AM

The LA Times  on last weekend's film "Thor"—

"… the film… attempts to bridge director Kenneth Branagh's high-minded Shakespearean intentions with Marvel Entertainment's bottom-line-oriented need to crank out entertainment product."

Those averse to Nordic religion may contemplate a different approach to entertainment (such as Taymor's recent approach to Spider-Man).

A high-minded— if not Shakespearean— non-Nordic approach to groups acting—

"What was wrong? I had taken almost four semesters of algebra in college. I had read every page of Herstein, tried every exercise. Somehow, a message had been lost on me. Groups act . The elements of a group do not have to just sit there, abstract and implacable; they can do  things, they can 'produce changes.' In particular, groups arise naturally as the symmetries of a set with structure. And if a group is given abstractly, such as the fundamental group of a simplical complex or a presentation in terms of generators and relators, then it might be a good idea to find something for the group to act on, such as the universal covering space or a graph."

— Thomas W. Tucker, review of Lyndon's Groups and Geometry  in The American Mathematical Monthly , Vol. 94, No. 4 (April 1987), pp. 392-394

"Groups act "… For some examples, see

Related entertainment—

High-minded— Many Dimensions

Not so high-minded— The Cosmic Cube


One way of blending high and low—

The high-minded Charles Williams tells a story
in his novel Many Dimensions about a cosmically
significant cube inscribed with the Tetragrammaton—
the name, in Hebrew, of God.

The following figure can be interpreted as
the Hebrew letter Aleph inscribed in a 3×3 square—


The above illustration is from undated software by Ed Pegg Jr.

For mathematical background, see a 1985 note, "Visualizing GL(2,p)."

For entertainment purposes, that note can be generalized from square to cube
(as Pegg does with his "GL(3,3)" software button).

For the Nordic-averse, some background on the Hebrew connection—

Friday, April 22, 2011

Romancing the Hyperspace

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 7:59 PM

For the title, see Palm Sunday.

"There is a pleasantly discursive treatment of
Pontius Pilate's unanswered question 'What is truth?'" — H. S. M. Coxeter, 1987

From this date (April 22) last year—

Image-- examples from Galois affine geometry

Richard J. Trudeau in The Non-Euclidean Revolution , chapter on "Geometry and the Diamond Theory of Truth"–

"… Plato and Kant, and most of the philosophers and scientists in the 2200-year interval between them, did share the following general presumptions:

(1) Diamonds– informative, certain truths about the world– exist.
(2) The theorems of Euclidean geometry are diamonds.

Presumption (1) is what I referred to earlier as the 'Diamond Theory' of truth. It is far, far older than deductive geometry."

Trudeau's book was published in 1987. The non-Euclidean* figures above illustrate concepts from a 1976 monograph, also called "Diamond Theory."

Although non-Euclidean,* the theorems of the 1976 "Diamond Theory" are also, in Trudeau's terminology, diamonds.

* "Non-Euclidean" here means merely "other than  Euclidean." No violation of Euclid's parallel postulate is implied.

Trudeau comes to reject what he calls the "Diamond Theory" of truth. The trouble with his argument is the phrase "about the world."

Geometry, a part of pure mathematics, is not  about the world. See G. H. Hardy, A Mathematician's Apology .

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Diamond Star

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 4:03 PM

From last night's note on finite geometry—

"The (83, 83) Möbius-Kantor configuration here described by Coxeter is of course part of the larger (94, 123) Hesse configuration. Simply add the center point of the 3×3 Galois affine plane and the four lines (1 horizontal, 1 vertical, 2 diagonal) through the center point." An illustration—

This suggests a search for "diamond+star."

Friday, March 18, 2011

Defining Configurations*

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 7:00 PM

The On-Line Encyclopedia of Integer Sequences has an article titled "Number of combinatorial configurations of type (n_3)," by N.J.A. Sloane and D. Glynn.

From that article:

  • DEFINITION: A combinatorial configuration of type (n_3) consists of an (abstract) set of n points together with a set of n triples of points, called lines, such that each point belongs to 3 lines and each line contains 3 points.
  • EXAMPLE: The unique (8_3) configuration consists of the triples 125, 148, 167, 236, 278, 347, 358, 456.

The following corrects the word "unique" in the example.


* This post corrects an earlier post, also numbered 14660 and dated 7 PM March 18, 2011, that was in error.
   The correction was made at about 11:50 AM on March 20, 2011.


Update of March 21

The problem here is of course with the definition. Sloane and Glynn failed to include in their definition a condition that is common in other definitions of configurations, even abstract or purely "combinatorial" configurations. See, for instance, Configurations of Points and Lines , by Branko Grunbaum (American Mathematical Society, 2009), p. 17—

In the most general sense we shall consider combinatorial (or abstract) configurations; we shall use the term set-configurations as well. In this setting "points" are interpreted as any symbols (usually letters or integers), and "lines" are families of such symbols; "incidence" means that a "point" is an element of a "line". It follows that combinatorial configurations are special kinds of general incidence structures. Occasionally, in order to simplify and clarify the language, for "points" we shall use the term marks, and for "lines" we shall use blocks. The main property of geometric configurations that is preserved in the generalization to set-configurations (and that characterizes such configurations) is that two marks are incident with at most one block, and two blocks with at most one mark.

Whether or not omitting this "at most one" condition from the definition is aesthetically the best choice, it dramatically changes the number  of configurations in the resulting theory, as the above (8_3) examples show.

Update of March 22 (itself updated on March 25)

For further background on configurations, see Dolgachev—


Note that the two examples Dolgachev mentions here, with 16 points and 9 points, are not unrelated to the geometry of 4×4 and 3×3 square arrays. For the Kummer and related 16-point configurations, see section 10.3, "The Three Biplanes of Order 4," in Burkard Polster's A Geometrical Picture Book  (Springer, 1998). See also the 4×4 array described by Gordon Royle in an undated web page and in 1980 by Assmus and Sardi. For the Hesse configuration, see (for instance) the passage from Coxeter quoted in Quaternions in an Affine Galois Plane.

Update of March 27

See the above link to the (16,6) 4×4 array and the (16,6) exercises using this array in R.D. Carmichael's classic Introduction to the Theory of Groups of Finite Order  (1937), pp. 42-43. For a connection of this sort of 4×4 geometry to the geometry of the diamond theorem, read "The 2-subsets of a 6-set are the points of a PG(3,2)" (a note from 1986) in light of R.W.H.T. Hudson's 1905 classic Kummer's Quartic Surface , pages 8-9, 16-17, 44-45, 76-77, 78-79, and 80.

Monday, February 28, 2011

His Kind of Diamond

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 9:00 PM

In memory of Jane Russell

H.S.M. Coxeter's classic
Introduction to Geometry  (2nd ed.):

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix07/070523-Coxeter62.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Note the resemblance of the central part to
a magical counterpart
the Ojo de Dios
of Mexico's Sierra Madre.

Related material page 55 of Polly and the Aunt ,
by Mary E. Blatchford.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Pope’s Speech

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 12:25 PM

Last night's post was about a talk last year at the annual student symposium of the ACCA (Associated Colleges of the Chicago Area), a group of largely Christian colleges.

The fact that the talk was by a student from Benedictine University suggests a review of the Urbi et Orbi  speech by Pope Benedict XVI on Christmas 2010.

“The Word became flesh”. The light of this truth is revealed to those who receive it in faith, for it is a mystery of love. Only those who are open to love are enveloped in the light of Christmas. So it was on that night in Bethlehem, and so it is today. The Incarnation of the Son of God is an event which occurred within history, while at the same time transcending history. In the night of the world a new light was kindled, one which lets itself be seen by the simple eyes of faith, by the meek and humble hearts of those who await the Saviour. If the truth were a mere mathematical formula, in some sense it would impose itself by its own power. But if Truth is Love, it calls for faith, for the “yes” of our hearts.

And what do our hearts, in effect, seek, if not a Truth which is also Love? Children seek it with their questions, so disarming and stimulating; young people seek it in their eagerness to discover the deepest meaning of their life; adults seek it in order to guide and sustain their commitments in the family and the workplace; the elderly seek it in order to grant completion to their earthly existence.

The above excerpt from the Pope's speech may be regarded as part of a continuing commentary on the following remark—

There is a pleasantly discursive treatment of Pontius Pilate's unanswered question "What is truth?" — H. S. M. Coxeter, 1987

Friday, January 7, 2011

Ayn Sof

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — m759 @ 7:26 PM

(A continuation of this morning's Coxeter and the Aleph)

"You've got to pick up every stitch… Must be the season of the witch."
Donovan song at the end of Nicole Kidman's "To Die For"

Mathematics and Narrative, Illustrated



"As is well known, the Aleph is the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet.
Its use for the strange sphere in my story may not be accidental.
For the Kabbala, the letter stands for the En Soph ,
the pure and boundless godhead; it is also said that it takes
the shape of a man pointing to both heaven and earth, in order to show
that the lower world is the map and mirror of the higher; for Cantor's
Mengenlehre , it is the symbol of transfinite numbers,
of which any part is as great as the whole."

— Borges, "The Aleph"

From WorldLingo.com

Ein Sof

Ein Soph or Ayn Sof (Hebrew  אין סוף, literally "without end", denoting "boundlessness" and/or "nothingness"), is a Kabbalistic term that usually refers to an abstract state of existence preceding God's Creation of the limited universe. This Ein Sof , typically referred to figuratively as the "light of Ein Sof " ("Or Ein Sof "), is the most fundamental emanation manifested by God. The Ein Sof  is the material basis of Creation that, when focused, restricted, and filtered through the sefirot , results in the created, dynamic universe.

Cultural impact

Mathematician Georg Cantor labeled different sizes of infinity using the Aleph. The smallest size of infinity is aleph-null (0), the second size is aleph-one (1), etc. One theory about why Cantor chose to use the aleph is because it is the first letter of Ein-Sof. (See Aleph number)

"Infinite Jest… now stands as the principal contender
for what serious literature can aspire to
in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries."

All Things Shining, a work of pop philosophy published January 4th


"You're gonna need a bigger boat." — Roy Scheider in "Jaws"

"We're gonna need more holy water." — "Season of the Witch," a film opening tonight

See also, with respect to David Foster Wallace, infinity, nihilism,
and the above reading of "Ayn Sof" as "nothingness,"
the quotations compiled as "Is Nothing Sacred?"

Coxeter and the Aleph

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — m759 @ 10:31 AM

In a nutshell —

Epigraph to "The Aleph," a 1945 story by Borges:

O God! I could be bounded in a nutshell,
and count myself a King of infinite space…
— Hamlet, II, 2


The story in book form, 1949

A 2006 biography of geometer H.S.M. Coxeter:


The Aleph (implicit in a 1950 article by Coxeter):


The details:

(Click to enlarge)


Related material: Group Actions, 1984-2009.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Back to the Saddle

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — m759 @ 5:30 AM

Recent posts (Church Logic and Church Narrative) have discussed finite  geometry as a type of non-Euclidean geometry.

For those who prefer non-finite geometry, here are some observations.


"A characteristic property of hyperbolic geometry
is that the angles of a triangle add to less
than a straight angle (half circle)." — Wikipedia


From To Ride Pegasus, by Anne McCaffrey, 1973: 

“Mary-Molly luv, it’s going to be accomplished in steps, this establishment of the Talented in the scheme of things. Not society, mind you, for we’re the original nonconformists…. and Society will never permit us to integrate.  That’s okay!”  He consigned Society to insignificance with a flick of his fingers.  “The Talented form their own society and that’s as it should be: birds of a feather.  No, not birds.  Winged horses!  Ha!  Yes, indeed. Pegasus… the poetic winged horse of flights of fancy.  A bloody good symbol for us.  You’d see a lot from the back of a winged horse…”

“Yes, an airplane has blind spots.  Where would you put a saddle?”  Molly had her practical side.

On the practical side:


The above chapel is from a Princeton Weekly Bulletin  story of October 6th, 2008.

Related material: This journal on that date.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 4:00 AM

An Epic Search for Truth

— Subtitle of Logicomix , a work reviewed in the December 2010 Notices of the American Mathematical Society  (see previous post).

Some future historian of mathematics may contrast the lurid cover of the December 2010 Notices


Excerpts from Logicomix

with the 1979 cover found in a somewhat less epic search —


Larger view of Google snippet —


For some purely mathematical background, see Finite Geometry of the Square and Cube.

For some background related to searches for truth, see "Coxeter + Trudeau" in this journal.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Savage Logic continued…

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 9:36 AM



"This is an account of the discrete groups generated by reflections…."

Regular Polytopes , by H.S.M. Coxeter (unabridged and corrected 1973 Dover reprint of the 1963 Macmillan second edition)

"In this article, we begin a theory linking hyperplane arrangements and invariant forms for reflection groups over arbitrary fields…. Let V  be an n-dimensional vector space over a field F, and let G ≤ Gln (F) be a finite group…. An element of finite order in Gl(V ) is a reflection if its fixed point space in V  is a hyperplane, called the reflecting hyperplane. There are two types of reflections: the diagonalizable reflections in Gl(V ) have a single nonidentity eigenvalue which is a root of unity; the nondiagonalizable reflections in Gl(V ) are called transvections and have determinant 1 (note that they can only occur if the characteristic of F is positive)…. A reflection group is a finite group G  generated by reflections."

— Julia Hartmann and Anne V. Shepler, "Reflection Groups and Differential Forms," Mathematical Research Letters , Vol. 14, No. 6 (Nov. 2007), pp. 955-971

"… the class of reflections is larger in some sense over an arbitrary field than over a characteristic zero field. The reflections in Gl(V ) not only include diagonalizable reflections (with a single nonidentity eigenvalue), but also transvections, reflections with determinant 1 which can not be diagonalized. The transvections in Gl(V ) prevent one from developing a theory of reflection groups mirroring that for Coxeter groups or complex reflection groups."

— Julia Hartmann and Anne V. Shepler, "Jacobians of Reflection Groups," Transactions of the American Mathematical Society , Vol. 360, No. 1 (2008), pp. 123-133 (Pdf available at CiteSeer.)

See also A Simple Reflection Group of Order 168 and this morning's Savage Logic.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Matrix Reloaded

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 12:00 AM

   For aficionados of mathematics and narrative

Illustration from
"The Galois Quaternion— A Story"

The Galois Quaternion

This resembles an attempt by Coxeter in 1950 to represent
a Galois geometry in the Euclidean plane—
Coxeter's 1950 representation in the Euclidean plane of the 9-point affine plane over GF(3)

The quaternion illustration above shows a more natural way to picture this geometry—
not with dots representing points in the Euclidean  plane, but rather with unit squares
representing points in a finite Galois  affine plane. The use of unit squares to
represent points in Galois space allows, in at least some cases, the actions
of finite groups to be represented more naturally than in Euclidean space.

See Galois Geometry, Geometry Simplified, and
Finite Geometry of the Square and Cube.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Eyes on the Prize

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 6:29 PM

Google Logo July 11, 2010

Image-- Google logo featuring World Cup Soccer field with the 'oog' from 'Google' on the field

"Oog" is Dutch (and Afrikaans) for "eye."

Strong Emergence Illustrated
(May 23, 2007 — Figures from Coxeter)—

The image 
“http://www.log24.com/log/pix07/070523-Coxeter62.jpg” cannot be 
displayed, because it contains errors.

The 2007 "strong emergence" post compares the
center figure to an "Ojo de Dios."

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Toronto vs. Rome

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 9:00 PM

or: Catullus vs. Ovid

(Today's previous post, "Coxeter vs. Fano,"
might also have been titled "Toronto vs. Rome.")

ut te postremo donarem munere mortis

Catullus 101



Image by Christopher Thomas at Wikipedia
Unfolding of a hypercube and of a cube —


Image--Chess game from 'The 
Seventh Seal'

The metaphor for metamorphosis no keys unlock.
— Steven H. Cullinane, "Endgame"

The current New Yorker  has a translation of
  the above line of Catullus by poet Anne Carson.
According to poets.org, Carson "attended St. Michael's College
at the University of Toronto and, despite leaving twice,
received her B.A. in 1974, her M.A. in 1975 and her Ph.D. in 1981."

Carson's translation is given in a review of her new book Nox.

The title, "The Unfolding," of the current review echoes an earlier
New Yorker  piece on another poet, Madeleine L'Engle—

Cynthia Zarin in The New Yorker, issue dated April 12, 2004–

“Time, for L’Engle, is accordion-pleated. She elaborated,
‘When you bring a sheet off the line, you can’t handle it
until it’s folded, and in a sense, I think, the universe can’t
exist until it’s folded– or it’s a story without a book.’”

(See also the "harrow up" + Hamlet  link in yesterday's 6:29 AM post.)

Coxeter vs. Fano

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 11:07 AM

The following excerpts from Coxeter's Projective Geometry
sketch his attitude toward geometry in characteristic two.
"… we develop a self-contained account… made
more 'modern' by allowing the field to be general
(though not of characteristic 2) instead of real or complex."

The "modern" in quotation marks may have been an oblique
reference to Segre's Lectures on Modern Geometry  (1948, 1961).
(See Coxeter's reference 15 below.)

Click to enlarge.

Image-- Coxeter on the Fano Plane

"It is interesting to see what happens…."

Another thing that happens if 1 + 1 = 0 —

It is no longer true that every finite reflection group
is a Coxeter group (provided we use Chevalley's
fixed-hyperplane definition of "reflection").

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Sunday School

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 7:59 AM

Limited— Good   
Évariste Galois  


Unlimited— Bad
H.S.M. Coxeter


Jamie James in The Music of the Spheres

"The Pythagorean philosophy, like Zoroastrianism, Taoism, and every early system of higher thought, is based upon the concept of dualism. Pythagoras constructed a table of opposites from which he was able to derive every concept needed for a philosophy of the phenomenal world. As reconstructed by Aristotle in his Metaphysics, the table contains ten dualities (ten being a particularly important number in the Pythagorean system, as we shall see):


Of these dualities, the first is the most important; all the others may be seen as different aspects of this fundamental dichotomy. To establish a rational and consistent relationship between the limited (man, finite time, and so forth) and the unlimited (the cosmos, eternity, etc.) is not only the aim of Pythagoras's system but the central aim of all Western philosophy."

Monday, May 10, 2010

Requiem for Georgia Brown

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 2:45 AM

Image-- Lena Horne in 'Cabin in the Sky'

Paul Robeson in
"King Solomon's Mines," 1937—

Image -- The cast of 1937's 'King Solomon's Mines' goes back to the future

The image above is an illustration from
  "Romancing the Hyperspace," May 4, 2010.

This illustration, along with Georgia Brown's
song from "Cabin in the Sky"—
"There's honey in the honeycomb"—
suggests the following picture.

Image-- Tesseract and Hyperspace (the 4-space over GF(2)). Source: Coxeter's 'Twisted Honeycombs'

"What might have been and what has been
   Point to one end, which is always present."
Four Quartets

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Geometry for Generations

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 12:25 PM

"Let G  be a finite, primitive subgroup of GL(V) = GL(n,D), where V  is an n-dimensional vector space over the division ring D.  Assume that G  is generated by 'nice' transformations.  The problem is then to try to determine (up to GL(V)-conjugacy) all possibilities for G.  Of course, this problem is very vague.  But it is a classical one, going back 150 years, and yet very much alive today."

— William M. Kantor, "Generation of Linear Groups," pp. 497-509 in The Geometric Vein: The Coxeter Festschrift, published by Springer, 1981

This quote was added today to "A Simple Reflection Group of Order 168."

Sunday, April 4, 2010


Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 11:11 AM


Toronto Globe and Mail: AWB 'Three Sevens' flag

Click on image for some background.

   (Globe and Mail)–

From March 19, 2010-- Weyl's 'Symmetry,' the triquetrum, and the eightfold cube

See also Baaad Blake and
Fearful Symmetry.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Variations on a Theme

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 2:29 PM

Today's previous entry was "Gameplayers of the Academy."

More on this theme–

David Corfield in the March 2010
European Mathematical Society newsletter

    "Staying on the theme of games, the mathematician
Alexandre Borovik* once told me he thinks of mathematics
as a Massively-Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game. If
so, it would show up very clearly the difference between
internal and external viewpoints. Inside the game people
are asking each other whether they were right about
something they encountered in it– 'When you entered
the dungeon did you see that dragon in the fireplace or
did I imagine it?' But someone observing them from the
outside wants to shout: 'You’re not dealing with anything
real. You’ve just got a silly virtual reality helmet on.' External
nominalists say the same thing, if more politely, to
mathematical practitioners. But in an important way the
analogy breaks down. Even if the players interact with
the game to change its functioning in unforeseen ways,
there were the original programmers who set the bounds
for what is possible by the choices they made. When they
release the next version of the game they will have made
changes to allow new things to happen. In the case of
mathematics, it’s the players themselves who make these
choices. There’s no further layer outside.
    What can we do then instead to pin down internal reality?"

*See previous references to Borovik in this journal.

Related material:

The Diamond Theory vs. the Story Theory of Truth,

Infantilizing the Audience, and

It's Still the Same Old Story…God of War III

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Reflections, continued

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — m759 @ 2:02 PM

"The eye you see him with is the same
eye with which he sees you."

– Father Egan on page 333
of Robert Stone's A Flag for Sunrise
(Knopf hardcover, 1981)

Part I– Bounded in a Nutshell


Ian McKellen at a mental hospital's diamond-shaped window in "Neverwas"

Part II– The Royal Castle


Ian McKellen at his royal castle's diamond-shaped window in "Neverwas"

Part III– King of Infinite Space


H.S.M. Coxeter crowns himself "King of Infinite Space"

Related material:

See Coxeter in this journal.


Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 12:06 PM

From the Wikipedia article "Reflection Group" that I created on Aug. 10, 2005as revised on Nov. 25, 2009

Historically, (Coxeter 1934) proved that every reflection group [Euclidean, by the current Wikipedia definition] is a Coxeter group (i.e., has a presentation where all relations are of the form ri2 or (rirj)k), and indeed this paper introduced the notion of a Coxeter group, while (Coxeter 1935) proved that every finite Coxeter group had a representation as a reflection group [again, Euclidean], and classified finite Coxeter groups.

Finite fields

This section requires expansion.

When working over finite fields, one defines a "reflection" as a map that fixes a hyperplane (otherwise for example there would be no reflections in characteristic 2, as −1=1 so reflections are the identity). Geometrically, this amounts to including shears in a hyperplane. Reflection groups over finite fields of characteristic not 2 were classified in (Zalesskiĭ & Serežkin 1981).

Related material:

"A Simple Reflection Group of Order 168," by Steven H. Cullinane, and

"Determination of the Finite Primitive Reflection Groups over an Arbitrary Field of Characteristic Not 2,"

by Ascher Wagner, U. of Birmingham, received 27 July 1977

Journal   Geometriae Dedicata
Publisher   Springer Netherlands
Issue   Volume 9, Number 2 / June, 1980

Ascher Wagner's 1977 dismissal of reflection groups over fields of characteristic 2

[A primitive permuation group preserves
no nontrivial partition of the set it acts upon.]

Clearly the eightfold cube is a counterexample.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Theories: An Outline

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — m759 @ 10:31 AM

Truth, Geometry, Algebra

The following notes are related to A Simple Reflection Group of Order 168.

1. According to H.S.M. Coxeter and Richard J. Trudeau

“There is a pleasantly discursive treatment of Pontius Pilate’s unanswered question ‘What is truth?’.”

— Coxeter, 1987, introduction to Trudeau’s The Non-Euclidean Revolution

1.1 Trudeau’s Diamond Theory of Truth

1.2 Trudeau’s Story Theory of Truth

2. According to Alexandre Borovik and Steven H. Cullinane

2.1 Coxeter Theory according to Borovik

2.1.1 The Geometry–

Mirror Systems in Coxeter Theory

2.1.2 The Algebra–

Coxeter Languages in Coxeter Theory

2.2 Diamond Theory according to Cullinane

2.2.1 The Geometry–

Examples: Eightfold Cube and Solomon’s Cube

2.2.2 The Algebra–

Examples: Cullinane and (rather indirectly related) Gerhard Grams

Summary of the story thus far:

Diamond theory and Coxeter theory are to some extent analogous– both deal with reflection groups and both have a visual (i.e., geometric) side and a verbal (i.e., algebraic) side.  Coxeter theory is of course highly developed on both sides. Diamond theory is, on the geometric side, currently restricted to examples in at most three Euclidean (and six binary) dimensions. On the algebraic side, it is woefully underdeveloped. For material related to the algebraic side, search the Web for generators+relations+”characteristic two” (or “2“) and for generators+relations+”GF(2)”. (This last search is the source of the Grams reference in 2.2.2 above.)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Mysteries of Faith

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 9:00 AM

From today's NY Times


Obituaries for mystery authors
Ralph McInerny and Dick Francis

From the date (Jan. 29) of McInerny's death–

"…although a work of art 'is formed around something missing,' this 'void is its vanishing point, not its essence.'"

Harvard University Press on Persons and Things (Walpurgisnacht, 2008), by Barbara Johnson

From the date (Feb. 14) of Francis's death–

2x2x2 cube

The EIghtfold Cube

The "something missing" in the above figure is an eighth cube, hidden behind the others pictured.

This eighth cube is not, as Johnson would have it, a void and "vanishing point," but is instead the "still point" of T.S. Eliot. (See the epigraph to the chapter on automorphism groups in Parallelisms of Complete Designs, by Peter J. Cameron. See also related material in this journal.) The automorphism group here is of course the order-168 simple group of Felix Christian Klein.

For a connection to horses, see
a March 31, 2004, post
commemorating the birth of Descartes
  and the death of Coxeter–

Putting Descartes Before Dehors

     Binary coordinates for a 4x2 array  Chess knight formed by a Singer 7-cycle

For a more Protestant meditation,
see The Cross of Descartes


Descartes's Cross

"I've been the front end of a horse
and the rear end. The front end is better."
— Old vaudeville joke

For further details, click on
the image below–

Quine and Derrida at Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Sunday School

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 9:00 AM

"Simplify, simplify." — Henry David Thoreau

"Because of their truly fundamental role in mathematics, even the simplest diagrams concerning finite reflection groups (or finite mirror systems, or root systems– the languages are equivalent) have interpretations of cosmological proportions."

Alexandre Borovik, 2010 (See previous entry.)

Exercise: Discuss Borovik's remark
that "the languages are equivalent"
in light of the web page


A Simple Reflection Group
of Order 168


Theorems 15.1 and 15.2 of Borovik's book (1st ed. Nov. 10, 2009)
Mirrors and Reflections: The Geometry of Finite Reflection Groups

15.1 (p. 114): Every finite reflection group is a Coxeter group.

15.2 (p. 114): Every finite Coxeter group is isomorphic to a finite reflection group.

Consider in this context the above simple reflection group of order 168.

(Recall that "…there is only one simple Coxeter group (up to isomorphism); it has order 2…" —A.M. Cohen.)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sunday September 27, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 3:00 AM
A Pleasantly
Discursive Treatment

In memory of Unitarian
minister Forrest Church,
 dead at 61 on Thursday:

NY Times Sept. 27, 2009, obituaries, featuring Unitarian minister Forrest Church

Unitarian Universalist Origins: Our Historic Faith

“In sixteenth-century Transylvania, Unitarian congregations were established for the first time in history.”

Gravity’s Rainbow–

“For every kind of vampire, there is a kind of cross.”

Unitarian minister Richard Trudeau

“… I called the belief that

(1) Diamonds– informative, certain truths about the world– exist

the ‘Diamond Theory’ of truth. I said that for 2200 years the strongest evidence for the Diamond Theory was the widespread perception that

(2) The theorems of Euclidean geometry are diamonds….

As the news about non-Euclidean geometry spread– first among mathematicians, then among scientists and philosophers– the Diamond Theory began a long decline that continues today.

Factors outside mathematics have contributed to this decline. Euclidean geometry had never been the Diamond Theory’s only ally. In the eighteenth century other fields had seemed to possess diamonds, too; when many of these turned out to be man-made, the Diamond Theory was undercut. And unlike earlier periods in history, when intellectual shocks came only occasionally, received truths have, since the eighteenth century, been found wanting at a dizzying rate, creating an impression that perhaps no knowledge is stable.

Other factors notwithstanding, non-Euclidean geometry remains, I think, for those who have heard of it, the single most powerful argument against the Diamond Theory*– first, because it overthrows what had always been the strongest argument in favor of the Diamond Theory, the objective truth of Euclidean geometry; and second, because it does so not by showing Euclidean geometry to be false, but by showing it to be merely uncertain.” —The Non-Euclidean Revolution, p. 255

H. S. M. Coxeter, 1987, introduction to Trudeau’s book

“There is a pleasantly discursive treatment of Pontius Pilate’s unanswered question ‘What is truth?’.”

As noted here on Oct. 8, 2008 (A Yom Kippur Meditation), Coxeter was aware in 1987 of a more technical use of the phrase “diamond theory” that is closely related to…

A kind
 of cross:

Diamond formed by four diagonally-divided two-color squares

See both
Theme and
and some more
poetic remarks,

 of the Fourfold.

* As recent Log24 entries have pointed out, diamond theory (in the original 1976 sense) is a type of non-Euclidean geometry, since finite geometry is not Euclidean geometry– and is, therefore, non-Euclidean, in the strictest sense (though not according to popular usage).

Friday, April 10, 2009

Friday April 10, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 8:00 AM

Pilate Goes
to Kindergarten

“There is a pleasantly discursive
 treatment of Pontius Pilate’s
unanswered question
‘What is truth?’.”

— H. S. M. Coxeter, 1987,
introduction to Trudeau’s
 remarks on the “Story Theory
 of truth as opposed to the
Diamond Theory” of truth in
 The Non-Euclidean Revolution

Consider the following question in a paper cited by V. S. Varadarajan:

E. G. Beltrametti, “Can a finite geometry describe physical space-time?” Universita degli studi di Perugia, Atti del convegno di geometria combinatoria e sue applicazioni, Perugia 1971, 57–62.


“Can a finite geometry describe physical space?”

Simplifying further:

“Yes. VideThe Eightfold Cube.'”

Froebel's 'Third Gift' to kindergarteners: the 2x2x2 cube

Friday, January 30, 2009

Friday January 30, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 11:07 AM
Two-Part Invention

This journal on
October 8, 2008,
at noon:

“There is a pleasantly discursive treatment of Pontius Pilate’s unanswered question ‘What is truth?'”

— H. S. M. Coxeter, introduction to Richard J. Trudeau’s remarks on the “story theory” of truth as opposed to the “diamond theory” of truth in The Non-Euclidean Revolution

Trudeau’s 1987 book uses the phrase “diamond theory” to denote the philosophical theory, common since Plato and Euclid, that there exist truths (which Trudeau calls “diamonds”) that are certain and eternal– for instance, the truth in Euclidean geometry that the sum of a triangle’s angles is 180 degrees.

Insidehighered.com on
the same day, October 8, 2008,
at 12:45 PM EDT

“Future readers may consider Updike our era’s Mozart; Mozart was once written off as a too-prolific composer of ‘charming nothings,’ and some speak of Updike that way.”

— Comment by BPJ

“Birthday, death-day–
 what day is not both?”
John Updike

Updike died on January 27.
On the same date,
Mozart was born.


Mr. Best entered,
tall, young, mild, light.
He bore in his hand
with grace a notebook,
new, large, clean, bright.

— James Joyce, Ulysses,
Shakespeare and Company,
Paris, 1922, page 178

Related material:

Dec. 5, 2004 and

Inscribed carpenter's square

Jan. 27-29, 2009

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Saturday November 8, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 8:28 AM
From a
Cartoon Graveyard

 “That corpse you planted
          last year in your garden,
  Has it begun to sprout?
          Will it bloom this year? 
  Or has the sudden frost
          disturbed its bed?”

— T. S. Eliot, “The Waste Land


“In the Roman Catholic tradition, the term ‘Body of Christ’ refers not only to the body of Christ in the spiritual realm, but also to two distinct though related things: the Church and the reality of the transubstantiated bread of the Eucharist….

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, ‘the comparison of the Church with the body casts light on the intimate bond between Christ and his Church. Not only is she gathered around him; she is united in him, in his body….’

….To distinguish the Body of Christ in this sense from his physical body, the term ‘Mystical Body of Christ’ is often used. This term was used as the first words, and so as the title, of the encyclical Mystici Corporis Christi of Pope Pius XII.”

Pope Pius XII

“83. The Sacrament of the Eucharist is itself a striking and wonderful figure of the unity of the Church, if we consider how in the bread to be consecrated many grains go to form one whole, and that in it the very Author of supernatural grace is given to us, so that through Him we may receive the spirit of charity in which we are bidden to live now no longer our own life but the life of Christ, and to love the Redeemer Himself in all the members of His social Body.”

Related material:

Log24 on this date in 2002:

Religious Symbolism
at Princeton

as well as

King of Infinite Space

Coxeter exhuming Geometry

and a
“striking and wonderful figure”
 from this morning’s newspaper–

Garfield brings to the fridge a birthday cupcake for the leftover meatloaf. Nov. 8, 2008.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Wednesday October 8, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 12:00 PM

Serious Numbers

A Yom Kippur

"When times are mysterious
Serious numbers
Will always be heard."
— Paul Simon,
"When Numbers Get Serious"

"There is a pleasantly discursive treatment of Pontius Pilate's unanswered question 'What is truth?'"

— H. S. M. Coxeter, introduction to Richard J. Trudeau's remarks on the "story theory" of truth as opposed to the "diamond theory" of truth in The Non-Euclidean Revolution

Trudeau's 1987 book uses the phrase "diamond theory" to denote the philosophical theory, common since Plato and Euclid, that there exist truths (which Trudeau calls "diamonds") that are certain and eternal– for instance, the truth in Euclidean geometry that the sum of a triangle's angles is 180 degrees. As the excerpt below shows, Trudeau prefers what he calls the "story theory" of truth–

"There are no diamonds. People make up stories about what they experience. Stories that catch on are called 'true.'"

(By the way, the phrase "diamond theory" was used earlier, in 1976, as the title of a monograph on geometry of which Coxeter was aware.)

Richard J. Trudeau on the 'Story Theory' of truth

Excerpt from
The Non-Euclidean Revolution

What does this have to do with numbers?

Pilate's skeptical tone suggests he may have shared a certain confusion about geometric truth with thinkers like Trudeau and the slave boy in Plato's Meno. Truth in a different part of mathematics– elementary arithmetic– is perhaps more easily understood, although even there, the existence of what might be called "non-Euclidean number theory"– i.e., arithmetic over finite fields, in which 1+1 can equal zero– might prove baffling to thinkers like Trudeau.

Trudeau's book exhibits, though it does not discuss, a less confusing use of numbers– to mark the location of pages. For some philosophical background on this version of numerical truth that may be of interest to devotees of the Semitic religions on this evening's High Holiday, see Zen and Language Games.

For uses of numbers that are more confusing, see– for instance– the new website The Daily Beast and the old website Story Theory and the Number of the Beast.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Friday July 4, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 8:00 AM

“I need a photo-opportunity,
I want a shot at redemption.
Don’t want to end up a cartoon
In a cartoon graveyard.”
— Paul Simon

From Log24 on June 27, 2008,
the day that comic-book artist
Michael Turner died at 37 —

Van Gogh (by Ed Arno) in
The Paradise of Childhood
(by Edward Wiebé):

'Dear Theo' cartoon of van Gogh by Ed Arno, adapted to illustrate the eightfold cube

Two tomb raiders: Lara Croft and H.S.M. Coxeter

For Turner’s photo-opportunity,
click on Lara.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Sunday June 1, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — m759 @ 2:14 PM
Yet Another
Cartoon Graveyard

The conclusion of yesterday’s commentary on the May 30-31 Pennsylvania Lottery numbers:

Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow:

“The fear balloons again inside his brain. It will not be kept down with a simple Fuck You…. A smell, a forbidden room, at the bottom edge of his memory. He can’t see it, can’t make it out. Doesn’t want to. It is allied with the Worst Thing.

He knows what the smell has to be: though according to these papers it would have been too early for it, though he has never come across any of the stuff among the daytime coordinates of his life, still, down here, back here in the warm dark, among early shapes where the clocks and calendars don’t mean too much, he knows that’s what haunting him now will prove to be the smell of Imipolex G.

Then there’s this recent dream he is afraid of having again. He was in his old room, back home. A summer afternoon of lilacs and bees and


What are we to make of this enigmatic 286? (No fair peeking at page 287.)

One possible meaning, given The Archivists claim that “existence is infinitely cross-referenced”–

Page 286 of Ernest G. Schachtel, Metamorphosis: On the Conflict of Human Development and the Psychology of Creativity (first published in 1959), Hillsdale NJ and London, The Analytic Press, 2001 (chapter– “On Memory and Childhood Amnesia”):

“Both Freud and Proust speak of the autobiographical [my italics] memory, and it is only with regard to this memory that the striking phenomenon of childhood amnesia and the less obvious difficulty of recovering any past experience may be observed.”

The concluding “summer afternoon of lilacs and bees” suggests that 286 may also be a chance allusion to the golden afternoon of Disney’s Alice in Wonderland. (Cf. St. Sarah’s Day, 2008)

Some may find the Disney afternoon charming; others may see it as yet another of Paul Simon’s dreaded cartoon graveyards.

More tastefully, there is poem 286 in the 1919 Oxford Book of English Verse– “Love.”

For a midrash on this poem, see Simone Weil, who became acquainted with the poem by chance:

“I always prefer saying chance rather than Providence.”

— Simone Weil, letter of about May 15, 1942

Weil’s brother André might prefer Providence (source of the Bulletin of the American Mathematical Society.)

Andre Weil and his sister Simone, summer of 1922(Photo from Providence)


Related material:

Log24, December 20, 2003–
White, Geometric, and Eternal

A description in Gravity’s Rainbow of prewar Berlin as “white and geometric”  suggested, in combination with a reference elsewhere to “the eternal,” a citation of the following illustration of the concept “white, geometric, and eternal”–

For more on the mathematical significance of this figure, see (for instance) Happy Birthday, Hassler Whitney, and Combinatorics of Coxeter Groups, by Anders Björner and Francesco Brenti, Graduate Texts in Mathematics, vol. 231, Springer, New York, 2005.

This book is reviewed in the current issue (July 2008) of the above-mentioned Providence Bulletin.

The review in the Bulletin discusses reflection groups in continuous spaces.

For a more elementary approach, see Reflection Groups in Finite Geometry and Knight Moves: The Relativity Theory of Kindergarten Blocks.

See also a commentary on
the phrase “as a little child.”

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Sunday May 25, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 6:30 PM
Hall of Mirrors

Epigraph to
Deploying the Glass Bead Game, Part II,”
by Robert de Marrais:

“For a complete logical argument,”
Arthur began
with admirable solemnity,
“we need two prim Misses –”
“Of course!” she interrupted.
“I remember that word now.
And they produce — ?”
“A Delusion,” said Arthur.

— Lewis Carroll,
Sylvie and Bruno

Prim Miss 1:

Erin O’Connor’s weblog
“Critical Mass” on May 24:

Roger Rosenblatt’s Beet [Ecco hardcover, Jan. 29, 2008] is the latest addition to the noble sub-genre of campus fiction….

Curricular questions and the behavior of committees are at once dry as dust subjects and areas ripe for sarcastic send-up– not least because, as dull as they are, they are really both quite vital to the credibility and viability of higher education.

Here’s an excerpt from the first meeting, in which committee members propose their personal plans for a new, improved curriculum:

“… Once the students really got into playing with toy soldiers, they would understand history with hands-on excitement.”

To demonstrate his idea, he’d brought along a shoe box full of toy doughboys and grenadiers, and was about to reenact the Battle of Verdun on the committee table when Heilbrun stayed his hand. “We get it,” he said.

“That’s quite interesting, Molton,” said Booth [a chemist]. “But is it rigorous enough?”

At the mention of the word, everyone, save Peace, sat up straight.

“Rigor is so important,” said Kettlegorf.

“We must have rigor,” said Booth.

“You may be sure,” said the offended Kramer. “I never would propose anything lacking rigor.”

Smythe inhaled and looked at the ceiling. “I think I may have something of interest,” he said, as if he were at a poker game and was about to disclose a royal flush. “My proposal is called ‘Icons of Taste.’ It would consist of a galaxy of courses affixed to several departments consisting of lectures on examples of music, art, architecture, literature, and other cultural areas a student needed to indicate that he or she was sophisticated.”

“Why would a student want to do that?” asked Booth.

“Perhaps sophistication is not a problem for chemists,” said Smythe. Lipman tittered.

“What’s the subject matter?” asked Heilbrun. “Would it have rigor?”

“Of course it would have rigor. Yet it would also attract those additional students Bollovate is talking about.” Smythe inhaled again. “The material would be carefully selected,” he said. “One would need to pick out cultural icons the students were likely to bring up in conversation for the rest of their lives, so that when they spoke, others would recognize their taste as being exquisite yet eclectic and unpredictable.”

“You mean Rembrandt?” said Kramer.

Smythe smiled with weary contempt. “No, I do not mean Rembrandt. I don’t mean Beethoven or Shakespeare, either, unless something iconic has emerged about them to justify their more general appeal.”

“You mean, if they appeared on posters,” said Lipman.

“That’s it, precisely.”

Lipman blushed with pride.

“The subject matter would be fairly easy to amass,” Smythe said. “We could all make up a list off the top of our heads. Einstein–who does have a poster.” He nodded to the ecstatic Lipman. “Auden, for the same reason. Students would need to be able to quote ‘September 1939[ or at least the last lines. And it would be good to teach ‘Musee des Beaux Arts’ as well, which is off the beaten path, but not garishly. Mahler certainly. But Cole Porter too. And Sondheim, I think. Goya. Warhol, it goes without saying, Stephen Hawking, Kurosawa, Bergman, Bette Davis. They’d have to come up with some lines from Dark Victory, or better still, Jezebel. La Dolce Vita. Casablanca. King of Hearts. And Orson, naturally. Citizen Kane, I suppose, though personally I prefer F for Fake.”

“Judy!” cried Heilbrun.

“Yes, Judy too. But not ‘Over the Rainbow.’ It would be more impressive for them to do ‘The Trolley Song,’ don’t you think?” Kettlegorf hummed the intro.

Guernica,” said Kramer. “Robert Capa.” Eight-limbed asterisk

“Edward R. Murrow,” said Lipman.

“No! Don’t be ridiculous!” said Smythe, ending Lipman’s brief foray into the world of respectable thought.

“Marilyn Monroe!” said Kettlegorf.

“Absolutely!” said Smythe, clapping to indicate his approval.

“And the Brooklyn Bridge,” said Booth, catching on. “And the Chrysler Building.”

“Maybe,” said Smythe. “But I wonder if the Chrysler Building isn’t becoming something of a cliche.”

Peace had had enough. “And you want students to nail this stuff so they’ll do well at cocktail parties?”

Smythe sniffed criticism, always a tetchy moment for him. “You make it sound so superficial,” he said.

Prim Miss 2:

Siri Hustvedt speaks at Adelaide Writers’ Week– a story dated March 24, 2008

“I have come to think of my books as echo chambers or halls of mirrors in which themes, ideas, associations continually reflect and reverberate inside a text. There is always point and counterpoint, to use a musical illustration. There is always repetition with difference.”

A Delusion:

Exercise — Identify in the following article the sentence that one might (by unfairly taking it out of context) argue is a delusion.

(Hint: See Reflection Groups in Finite Geometry.)

A. V. Borovik, 'Maroids and Coxeter Groups'

Why Borovik’s Figure 4
is included above:

Euclid, Peirce, L’Engle:
No Royal Roads.

For more on Prim Miss 2
and deploying
the Glass Bead Game,
see the previous entry.

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/images/asterisk8.gif” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. And now, perhaps, his brother Cornell Capa, who died Friday.

 Related material: Log24 on March 24– Death and the Apple Tree— with an excerpt from
George MacDonald, and an essay by David L. Neuhouser mentioning the influence of MacDonald on Lewis Carroll– Lewis Carroll: Author, Mathematician, and Christian (pdf).

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Sunday May 18, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — m759 @ 2:02 PM

From the Grave


in yesterday's New York Times:

"From the grave, Albert Einstein
poured gasoline on the culture wars
between science and religion this week…."

An announcement of a
colloquium at Princeton:

Cartoon of Coxedter exhuming Geometry

Above: a cartoon,
"Coxeter exhuming Geometry,"
with the latter's tombstone inscribed


  600 B.C. —
1900 A.D.

Page from 'The Paradise of Childhood,' 1906 edition

The above is from
The Paradise of Childhood,
a work first published in 1869.

"I need a photo-opportunity,
I want a shot at redemption.
Don't want to end up a cartoon
In a cartoon graveyard."

— Paul Simon

Einstein on TIME cover as 'Man of the Century'

Albert Einstein,

"It is quite clear to me that the religious paradise of youth, which was thus lost, was a first attempt to free myself from the chains of the 'merely-personal,' from an existence which is dominated by wishes, hopes and primitive feelings.  Out yonder there was this huge world, which exists independently of us human beings and which stands before us like a great, eternal riddle, at least partially accessible to our inspection and thinking.  The contemplation of this world beckoned like a liberation…."

Autobiographical Notes, 1949

Related material:

A commentary on Tom Wolfe's
"Sorry, but Your Soul Just Died"–

"The Neural Buddhists," by David Brooks,
 in the May 13 New York Times:

"The mind seems to have
the ability to transcend itself
and merge with a larger
presence that feels more real."

A New Yorker commentary on
a new translation of the Psalms:

"Suddenly, in a world without
Heaven, Hell, the soul, and
eternal salvation or redemption,
the theological stakes seem
more local and temporal:
'So teach us to number our days.'"

and a May 13 Log24 commentary
on Thomas Wolfe's
"Only the Dead Know Brooklyn"–

"… all good things — trout as well as
eternal salvation — come by grace
and grace comes by art
and art does not come easy."

A River Runs Through It

"Art isn't easy."
— Stephen Sondheim,
quoted in
Solomon's Cube.

For further religious remarks,
consult Indiana Jones and the
Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
and The Librarian:
Return to King Solomon's Mines.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Thursday March 27, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — m759 @ 3:29 PM

Back to the Garden

Film star Richard Widmark
died on Monday, March 24.

From Log24 on that date:

"Hanging from the highest limb
of the apple tree are
     the three God's Eyes…"

    — Ken Kesey  

Related material:

The Beauty Test, 5/23/07–
H.S.M. Coxeter's classic
Introduction to Geometry (2nd ed.):

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix07/070523-Coxeter62.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Note the resemblance of
the central part to
a magical counterpart–
the Ojo de Dios
of Mexico's Sierra Madre.

From a Richard Widmark film festival:

Henry Hathaway, 1954

"A severely underrated Scope western, shot in breathtaking mountain locations near Cuernavaca. Widmark, Gary Cooper and Cameron Mitchell are a trio of fortune hunters stranded in Mexico, when they are approached by Susan Hayward to rescue her husband (Hugh Marlowe) from a caved-in gold mine in Indian country. When they arrive at the 'Garden of Evil,' they must first battle with one another before they have to stave off their bloodthirsty Indian attackers. Widmark gives a tough, moving performance as Fiske, the one who sacrifices himself to save his friends. 'Every day it goes, and somebody goes with it,' he says as he watches the setting sun. 'Today it's me.' This was one of the best of Hollywood veteran Henry Hathaway's later films. With a brilliant score by Bernard Herrmann."

See also
the apple-tree
entries from Monday
(the date of Widmark's death)
and Tuesday, as well as
today's previous entry and
previous Log24
entries on Cuernavaca

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Thursday March 6, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 12:00 PM
This note is prompted by the March 4 death of Richard D. Anderson, writer on geometry, President (1981-82) of the Mathematical Association of America (MAA), and member of the MAA’s Icosahedron Society.

Royal Road

“The historical road
from the Platonic solids
to the finite simple groups
is well known.”

— Steven H. Cullinane,
November 2000,
Symmetry from Plato to
the Four-Color Conjecture

Euclid is said to have remarked that “there is no royal road to geometry.” The road to the end of the four-color conjecture may, however, be viewed as a royal road from geometry to the wasteland of mathematical recreations.* (See, for instance, Ch. VIII, “Map-Colouring Problems,” in Mathematical Recreations and Essays, by W. W. Rouse Ball and H. S. M. Coxeter.) That road ended in 1976 at the AMS-MAA summer meeting in Toronto– home of H. S. M. Coxeter, a.k.a. “the king of geometry.”

See also Log24, May 21, 2007.

A different road– from Plato to the finite simple groups– is, as I noted in November 2000, well known. But new roadside attractions continue to appear. One such attraction is the role played by a Platonic solid– the icosahedron– in design theory, coding theory, and the construction of the sporadic simple group M24.

“By far the most important structure in design theory is the Steiner system S(5, 8, 24).”

— “Block Designs,” by Andries E. Brouwer (Ch. 14 (pp. 693-746) of Handbook of Combinatorics, Vol. I, MIT Press, 1995, edited by Ronald L. Graham, Martin Grötschel, and László Lovász, Section 16 (p. 716))

This Steiner system is closely connected to M24 and to the extended binary Golay code. Brouwer gives an elegant construction of that code (and therefore of  M24):

“Let N be the adjacency matrix of the icosahedron (points: 12 vertices, adjacent: joined by an edge). Then the rows of the 12×24 matrix (I  J-N) generate the extended binary Golay code.” [Here I is the identity matrix and J is the matrix of all 1’s.]

Op. cit., p. 719

Related material:

Finite Geometry of
the Square and Cube

Jewel in the Crown

“There is a pleasantly discursive
treatment of Pontius Pilate’s
unanswered question
‘What is truth?'”
— H. S. M. Coxeter, 1987,
introduction to Trudeau’s
“story theory” of truth

Those who prefer stories to truth
may consult the Log24 entries
 of March 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.

They may also consult
the poet Rubén Darío:

Todo lo sé por el lucero puro
que brilla en la diadema de la Muerte.

* For a road out of this wasteland, back to geometry, see The Kaleidoscope Puzzle and Reflection Groups in Finite Geometry.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Saturday January 26, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 2:22 AM
Working Backward

Those who have followed the links here recently may appreciate a short story told by yesterday’s lottery numbers in Pennsylvania: mid-day 096, evening 513.

The “96” may be regarded as a reference to the age at death of geometer H.S.M. Coxeter (see yesterday morning’s links). The “513” may be regarded as a reference to the time of yesterday afternoon’s entry, 5:01, plus the twelve minutes discussed in that entry by presidential aide Richard Darman, who died yesterday.

These references may seem less fanciful in the light of other recent Log24 material: a verse quoted here on Jan. 18

… Todo lo sé por el lucero puro
que brilla en la diadema de la Muerte.

Rubén Darío,
born January 18, 1867

— and a link on Jan. 19 to the following:

The Lion, the Witch
and the Wardrobe:


“But what does it all mean?” asked Susan when they were somewhat calmer.

“It means,” said Aslan, “that though the Witch knew the Deep Magic, there is a magic deeper still which she did not know. Her knowledge goes back only to the dawn of Time. But if she could have looked a little further back, into the stillness and the darkness before Time dawned, she would have read there a different incantation. She would have known that when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backward.”

Friday, January 25, 2008

Friday January 25, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — m759 @ 4:04 AM

Requiem for a Curator

"There is a pleasantly discursive treatment
of Pontius Pilate's unanswered question
'What is truth?'"

  — H. S. M. Coxeter, 1987,
book introduction quoted
as epigraph to
Art Wars

"I confess I do not believe in time.
I like to fold my magic carpet,
after use, in such a way
as to superimpose
one part of the pattern
upon another."

Nabokov, Speak, Memory


Figure by Coxeter
reminiscent of the
Ojo de Dios of
Mexico's Sierra Madre

In memory of
National Gallery
of Art curator
Philip Conisbee,
who died on
January 16:

"the God's-eye
 of the author"


— Dorothy Sayers,
    The Mind
    of the Maker

  "one complete
and free eye,
which can
simultaneously see
in all directions"

— Vladimir Nabokov,
    The Gift   

A Contrapuntal Theme

Monday, December 24, 2007

Monday December 24, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — m759 @ 9:00 AM

From Saturday's entry
(Log24, Dec. 22, 2007)
a link goes to–
The five entries of June 14, 2007.

From there, the link
"One Two Three Four,
Who Are We For?"
goes to–
Princeton: A Whirligig Tour
(Log24, June 5, 2007).

From there, the link
"Taking Christ to Studio 60"
goes to–
The five Log 24 entries
prior to midnight Sept. 18, 2006.

From there, the link
"Log24, January 18, 2004"
goes to–
A Living Church.

From there, the link
"click here"
goes to–
In the Bleak Midwinter
(Internet Movie Database)…


The drama. The passion. The intrigue… And the rehearsals haven't even started.

Plot Summary:

Out of work actor Joe volunteers to help try and save his sister's local church
for the community by putting on a Christmas production of Hamlet…

"… were it not that
  I have bad dreams."
— Hamlet

Related material:

The New York Times online
obituaries of December 22,

 Ike Turner's
 "Bad Dreams" album
(see Log24, July 12, 2004),

"Devil Music," a composition
by H. S. M. Coxeter,


King of Infinite Space.

Those desiring more literary depth
may consult the G. K. Chesterton
play "Magic" for which Coxeter
wrote his "Devil Music" and
the Ingmar Bergman film
"The Magician" said to have
been inspired by Chesterton.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Friday July 6, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 12:26 AM
Midnight in the Garden
of Good and Evil

continued from
Midsummer Night

“The voodoo priestess looked across the table at her wealthy client, a man on trial for murder: ‘Now, you know how dead time works. Dead time lasts for one hour– from half an hour before midnight to half an hour after midnight. The half-hour before midnight is for doin’ good. The half-hour after midnight is for doin’ evil….'”

— Glenna Whitley, “Voodoo Justice,”
The New York Times, March 20, 1994

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix06A/061019-Coxeter.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

In Other Game News:

“In June, bloggers speculated that the Xbox 360 return problem was getting so severe that the company was running out of ‘coffins,’ or special return-shipping boxes Microsoft provides to gamers with dead consoles. ‘We’ll make sure we have plenty of boxes to go back and forth,’ Bach said in an interview.”

The picture of
“Coxeter Exhuming Geometry”
suggests the following
illustration, based
in part on
 Plato’s poem to Aster:

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix06A/061019-Tombstones.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Related material:

Thursday’s last entry


The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix05/050310-hex.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Sex and Art
in a
Chinese Poem

The proportions of
the above rectangle
may suggest to some
a coffin; they are
meant to suggest
a monolith.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Thursday May 31, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 8:06 PM

Blitz by anonymous
New Delhi user

From Wikipedia on 31 May, 2007:

Shown below is a list of 25 alterations to Wikipedia math articles made today by user

All of the alterations involve removal of links placed by user Cullinane (myself).

The 122.163… IP address is from an internet service provider in New Delhi, India.

The New Delhi anonymous user was apparently inspired by an earlier blitz by Wikipedia administrator Charles Matthews. (See User talk: Cullinane.)

Related material:

Ashay Dharwadker and Usenet Postings
and Talk: Four color theorem/Archive 2.
See also some recent comments from 122.163…
at Talk: Four color theorem.

May 31, 2007, alterations by

  1. 17:17 Orthogonality (rm spam)
  2. 17:16 Symmetry group (rm spam)
  3. 17:14 Boolean algebra (rm spam)
  4. 17:12 Permutation (rm spam)
  5. 17:10 Boolean logic (rm spam)
  6. 17:08 Gestalt psychology (rm spam)
  7. 17:05 Tesseract (rm spam)
  8. 17:02 Square (geometry) (rm spam)
  9. 17:00 Fano plane (rm spam)
  10. 16:55 Binary Golay code (rm spam)
  11. 16:53 Finite group (rm spam)
  12. 16:52 Quaternion group (rm spam)
  13. 16:50 Logical connective (rm spam)
  14. 16:48 Mathieu group (rm spam)
  15. 16:45 Tutte–Coxeter graph (rm spam)
  16. 16:42 Steiner system (rm spam)
  17. 16:40 Kaleidoscope (rm spam)
  18. 16:38 Efforts to Create A Glass Bead Game (rm spam)
  19. 16:36 Block design (rm spam)
  20. 16:35 Walsh function (rm spam)
  21. 16:24 Latin square (rm spam)
  22. 16:21 Finite geometry (rm spam)
  23. 16:17 PSL(2,7) (rm spam)
  24. 16:14 Translation plane (rm spam)
  25. 16:13 Block design test (rm spam)

The deletions should please Charles Matthews and fans of Ashay Dharwadker’s work as a four-color theorem enthusiast and as editor of the Open Directory sections on combinatorics and on graph theory.

There seems little point in protesting the deletions while Wikipedia still allows any anonymous user to change their articles.

Cullinane 23:28, 31 May 2007 (UTC)

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Wednesday May 23, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 7:00 AM
Strong Emergence Illustrated:
The Beauty Test
"There is no royal road
to geometry"

— Attributed to Euclid

There are, however, various non-royal roads.  One of these is indicated by yesterday's Pennsylvania lottery numbers:

PA Lottery May 22, 2007: Mid-day 515, Evening 062

The mid-day number 515 may be taken as a reference to 5/15. (See the previous entry, "Angel in the Details," and 5/15.)

The evening number 062, in the context of Monday's entry "No Royal Roads" and yesterday's "Jewel in the Crown," may be regarded as naming a non-royal road to geometry: either U. S. 62, a major route from Mexico to Canada (home of the late geometer H.S.M. Coxeter), or a road less traveled– namely, page 62 in Coxeter's classic Introduction to Geometry (2nd ed.):

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix07/070523-Coxeter62.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

The illustration (and definition) is
of regular tessellations of the plane.

This topic Coxeter offers as an
illustration of remarks by G. H. Hardy
that he quotes on the preceding page:

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix07/070523-Hardy.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

One might argue that such beauty is strongly emergent because of the "harmonious way" the parts fit together: the regularity (or fitting together) of the whole is not reducible to the regularity of the parts.  (Regular triangles, squares, and hexagons fit together, but regular pentagons do not.)

The symmetries of these regular tessellations of the plane are less well suited as illustrations of emergence, since they are tied rather closely to symmetries of the component parts.

But the symmetries of regular tessellations of the sphere— i.e., of the five Platonic solids– do emerge strongly, being apparently independent of symmetries of the component parts.

Another example of strong emergence: a group of 322,560 transformations acting naturally on the 4×4 square grid— a much larger group than the group of 8 symmetries of each component (square) part.

The lottery numbers above also supply an example of strong emergence– one that nicely illustrates how it can be, in the words of Mark Bedau, "uncomfortably like magic."

(Those more comfortable with magic may note the resemblance of the central part of Coxeter's illustration to a magical counterpart– the Ojo de Dios of Mexico's Sierra Madre.)

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Tuesday May 22, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 7:11 AM
Jewel in the Crown

A fanciful Crown of Geometry

The Crown of Geometry
(according to Logothetti
in a 1980 article)

The crown jewels are the
Platonic solids, with the
icosahedron at the top.

Related material:

"[The applet] Syntheme illustrates ways of partitioning the 12 vertices of an icosahedron into 3 sets of 4, so that each set forms the corners of a rectangle in the Golden Ratio. Each such rectangle is known as a duad. The short sides of a duad are opposite edges of the icosahedron, and there are 30 edges, so there are 15 duads.

Each partition of the vertices into duads is known as a syntheme. There are 15 synthemes; 5 consist of duads that are mutually perpendicular, while the other 10 consist of duads that share a common line of intersection."

— Greg Egan, Syntheme

Duads and synthemes
(discovered by Sylvester)
also appear in this note
from May 26, 1986
(click to enlarge):


Duads and Synthemes in finite geometry

The above note shows
duads and synthemes related
to the diamond theorem.

See also John Baez's essay
"Some Thoughts on the Number 6."
That essay was written 15 years
ago today– which happens
to be the birthday of
Sir Laurence Olivier, who,
were he alive today, would
be 100 years old.

Olivier as Dr. Christian Szell

The icosahedron (a source of duads and synthemes)

"Is it safe?"

Monday, May 21, 2007

Monday May 21, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — m759 @ 4:00 PM
No Royal Roads
Illustration from a
1980 article at JSTOR:

Coxeter as King of Geometry

A more recent royal reference:

"'Yau wants to be the king of geometry,' Michael Anderson, a geometer at Stony Brook, said. 'He believes that everything should issue from him, that he should have oversight. He doesn't like people encroaching on his territory.'" –Sylvia Nasar and David Gruber in The New Yorker, issue dated Aug. 28, 2006

Wikipedia, Cultural references to the Royal Road:

"Euclid is said to have replied to King Ptolemy's request for an easier way of learning mathematics that 'there is no royal road to geometry.' Charles S. Peirce, in his 'How to Make Our Ideas Clear' (1878), says 'There is no royal road to logic, and really valuable ideas can only be had at the price of close attention.'"

Related material:

Day Without Logic
(March 8, 2007)

The Geometry of Logic
(March 10, 2007)

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix07/070521-Tesseract.gif” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

There may be
no royal roads to
geometry or logic,

"There is such a thing
as a tesseract."
— Madeleine L'Engle, 
A Wrinkle in Time

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Sunday May 20, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 8:00 AM
Plato and Shakespeare:
Solid and Central

"I have another far more solid and central ground for submitting to it as a faith, instead of merely picking up hints from it as a scheme. And that is this: that the Christian Church in its practical relation to my soul is a living teacher, not a dead one. It not only certainly taught me yesterday, but will almost certainly teach me to-morrow. Once I saw suddenly the meaning of the shape of the cross; some day I may see suddenly the meaning of the shape of the mitre. One free morning I saw why windows were pointed; some fine morning I may see why priests were shaven. Plato has told you a truth; but Plato is dead. Shakespeare has startled you with an image; but Shakespeare will not startle you with any more. But imagine what it would be to live with such men still living, to know that Plato might break out with an original lecture to-morrow, or that at any moment Shakespeare might shatter everything with a single song. The man who lives in contact with what he believes to be a living Church is a man always expecting to meet Plato and Shakespeare to-morrow at breakfast. He is always expecting to see some truth that he has never seen before."

— G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy, Ch. IX

From Plato, Pegasus, and the Evening Star (11/11/99):

"Nonbeing must in some sense be, otherwise what is it that there is not? This tangled doctrine might be nicknamed Plato's beard; historically it has proved tough, frequently dulling the edge of Occam's razor…. I have dwelt at length on the inconvenience of putting up with it. It is time to think about taking steps."
— Willard Van Orman Quine, 1948, "On What There Is," reprinted in From a Logical Point of View, Harvard University Press, 1980

"The Consul could feel his glance at Hugh becoming a cold look of hatred. Keeping his eyes fixed gimlet-like upon him he saw him as he had appeared that morning, smiling, the razor edge keen in sunlight. But now he was advancing as if to decapitate him."
— Malcolm Lowry, Under the Volcano, 1947, Ch. 10


"O God, I could be
bounded in a nutshell
and count myself
a king of infinite space,
were it not that
I have bad dreams."

Coxeter: King of Infinite Space

Coxeter exhuming geometry

From today's newspaper:

Dilbert on space, existence, and the dead


For an illustration of
the phrase "solid and central,"
see the previous entry.

For further context, see the
five Log24 entries ending
on September 6, 2006

For background on the word
"hollow," see the etymology of
 "hole in the wall" as well as
"The God-Shaped Hole" and
"Is Nothing Sacred?"

For further ado, see
Macbeth, V.v
("signifying nothing")
and The New Yorker,
issue dated tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 8, 2006

Wednesday November 8, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 8:00 PM
Grave Matters

See Log24 four years ago
on this date:
Religious Symbolism
at Princeton

Compare and contrast
with last month’s entries
related to a Princeton
Coxeter colloquium:

Geometry’s Tombstones
Birth, Death, and Symmetry.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Thursday October 19, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 7:59 PM
King of Infinite Space
  (continued from Sept. 5):

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix06A/061019-Coxeter.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Thanks to Peter Woit’s weblog
for a link to the above illustration.

This picture of
“Coxeter Exhuming Geometry”
suggests the following comparison:

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix06A/061019-Tombstones.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

For the second tombstone,
see this morning’s entry,
Birth, Death, and Symmetry.

Further details on the geometry
underlying the second tombstone:

The image “http://www.log24.com/theory/images/LavesTiling.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

The above is from
Variable Resolution 4–k Meshes:
Concepts and Applications
by Luiz Velho and Jonas Gomes.

See also Symmetry Framed
and The Garden of Cyrus.

 “That corpse you planted
          last year in your garden,
  Has it begun to sprout?
          Will it bloom this year? 
  Or has the sudden frost
          disturbed its bed?”

— T. S. Eliot, “The Waste Land

Tuesday, September 5, 2006

Tuesday September 5, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 1:00 AM
The King of
Infinite Space
was published today.

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix06A/KingOfInfiniteSpace.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Click on picture for details.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Tuesday April 25, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 3:09 PM

“There is a pleasantly discursive treatment
of Pontius Pilate’s unanswered question
‘What is truth?'”

— H. S. M. Coxeter, 1987, introduction to
Richard J. Trudeau’s remarks on
the “Story Theory” of truth
as opposed to
the “Diamond Theory” of truth
in The Non-Euclidean Revolution

A Serious Position

“‘Teitelbaum,’ in German,
is ‘date palm.'”
Generations, Jan. 2003   

“In Hasidism, a mystical brand
of Orthodox Judaism, the grand rabbi
is revered as a kinglike link to God….”

Today’s New York Times obituary
of Rabbi Moses Teitelbaum,
who died on April 24, 2006
(Easter Monday in the
Orthodox Church

From Nextbook.org, “a gateway to Jewish literature, culture, and ideas”:

NEW BOOKS: 02.16.05
Proofs and Paradoxes
Alfred Teitelbaum changed his name to Tarski in the early 20s, the same time he changed religions, but when the Germans invaded his native Poland, the mathematician was in California, where he remained. His “great achievement was his audacious assault on the notion of truth,” says Martin Davis, focusing on the semantics and syntax of scientific language. Alfred Tarski: Life and Logic, co-written by a former student, Solomon Feferman, offers “remarkably intimate information,” such as abusive teaching and “extensive amorous involvements.”

From Wikipedia, an unsigned story:

“In 1923 Alfred Teitelbaum and his brother Wacław changed their surnames to Tarski, a name they invented because it sounded very Polish, was simple to spell and pronounce, and was unused. (Years later, he met another Alfred Tarski in northern California.) The Tarski brothers also converted to Roman Catholicism, the national religion of the Poles. Alfred did so, even though he was an avowed atheist, because he was about to finish his Ph.D. and correctly anticipated that it would be difficult for a Jew to obtain a serious position in the new Polish university system.”

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix06/060425-Tarski.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Alfred Tarski

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix06/060424-Crimson2.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

See also
The Crimson Passion.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Friday January 20, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 12:00 PM
Fourstone Parable

"Wherefore let it hardly… be… thought that the prisoner… was at his best a onestone parable
for… pathetically few… cared… to doubt… the canonicity of his existence as a tesseract."

Finnegans Wake, page 100, abridged

"… we have forgotten that we were angels and painted ourselves into a corner
of resource extraction and commodification of ourselves."

— A discussion, in a draft of a paper (rtf) attributed to Josh Schultz, 
of the poem "Diamond" by Attila Jozsef

Commodification of
the name Cullinane:

See the logos at
a design firm with
the motto

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix06/060120-Motto.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

(Note the 4Cs theme.)

To adapt a phrase from
Finnegans Wake, the
"fourstone parable" below
is an attempt to
decommodify my name.

Fourstone Parable:

(See also yesterday's "Logos."
The "communicate" logo is taken from
an online library at Calvin College;
the "connect" logo is a commonly
available picture of a tesseract
(Coxeter, Regular Polytopes, p. 123),
and the other two logos
are more or less original.)

For a more elegant
four-diamond figure, see
Jung and the Imago Dei.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Sunday November 20, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 4:04 PM
An Exercise
of Power

Johnny Cash:
“And behold,
a white horse.”

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix05B/051120-SpringerLogo9.gif” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
Adapted from
illustration below:

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix05B/051120-NonEuclideanRev.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

“There is a pleasantly discursive treatment of Pontius Pilate’s unanswered question ‘What is truth?'”

H. S. M. Coxeter, 1987, introduction to Richard J. Trudeau’s remarks on the “Story Theory” of truth as opposed to  the “Diamond Theory” of truth in The Non-Euclidean Revolution

“A new epistemology is emerging to replace the Diamond Theory of truth. I will call it the ‘Story Theory’ of truth: There are no diamonds. People make up stories about what they experience. Stories that catch on are called ‘true.’ The Story Theory of truth is itself a story that is catching on. It is being told and retold, with increasing frequency, by thinkers of many stripes*….”

Richard J. Trudeau in
The Non-Euclidean Revolution

“‘Deniers’ of truth… insist that each of us is trapped in his own point of view; we make up stories about the world and, in an exercise of power, try to impose them on others.”

— Jim Holt in The New Yorker.

(Click on the box below.)

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix05B/050819-Critic4.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Exercise of Power:

Show that a white horse–

A Singer 7-Cycle

a figure not unlike the
symbol of the mathematics
publisher Springer–
is traced, within a naturally
arranged rectangular array of
polynomials, by the powers of x
modulo a polynomial
irreducible over a Galois field.

This horse, or chess knight–
“Springer,” in German–
plays a role in “Diamond Theory”
(a phrase used in finite geometry
in 1976, some years before its use
by Trudeau in the above book).

Related material

On this date:

 In 1490, The White Knight
 (Tirant lo Blanc The image “http://www.log24.com/images/asterisk8.gif” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. )–
 a major influence on Cervantes–
was published, and in 1910

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix05B/051120-Caballo1.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

the Mexican Revolution began.

Zapata by Diego Rivera,
Museum of Modern Art,
New York

The image “http://www.log24.com/images/asterisk8.gif” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. Description from Amazon.com

“First published in the Catalan language in Valencia in 1490…. Reviewing the first modern Spanish translation in 1969 (Franco had ruthlessly suppressed the Catalan language and literature), Mario Vargas Llosa hailed the epic’s author as ‘the first of that lineage of God-supplanters– Fielding, Balzac, Dickens, Flaubert, Tolstoy, Joyce, Faulkner– who try to create in their novels an all-encompassing reality.'”

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Wednesday September 28, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 4:26 AM
Mathematical Narrative,

There is a pleasantly discursive treatment
of Pontius Pilate’s unanswered question
“What is truth?”

— H. S. M. Coxeter, introduction to
Richard J. Trudeau’s
The Non-Euclidean Revolution

“People have always longed for truths about the world — not logical truths, for all their utility; or even probable truths, without which daily life would be impossible; but informative, certain truths, the only ‘truths’ strictly worthy of the name. Such truths I will call ‘diamonds’; they are highly desirable but hard to find….The happy metaphor is Morris Kline’s in Mathematics in Western Culture (Oxford, 1953), p. 430.”

— Richard J. Trudeau,
   The Non-Euclidean Revolution,
   Birkhauser Boston,
   1987, pages 114 and 117

“A new epistemology is emerging to replace the Diamond Theory of truth. I will call it the ‘Story Theory’ of truth: There are no diamonds. People make up stories about what they experience. Stories that catch on are called ‘true.’ The Story Theory of truth is itself a story that is catching on. It is being told and retold, with increasing frequency, by thinkers of many stripes…. My own viewpoint is the Story Theory…. I concluded long ago that each enterprise contains only stories (which the scientists call ‘models of reality’). I had started by hunting diamonds; I did find dazzlingly beautiful jewels, but always of human manufacture.”

  — Richard J. Trudeau,
     The Non-Euclidean Revolution,
     Birkhauser Boston,
     1987, pages 256 and 259

An example of
the story theory of truth:

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix05B/050925-Proof1.jpg”  cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Actress Gwyneth Paltrow (“Proof”) was apparently born on either Sept. 27, 1972, or Sept. 28, 1972.   Google searches yield  “about 193” results for the 27th and “about 610” for the 28th.

Those who believe in the “story theory” of truth may therefore want to wish her a happy birthday today.  Those who do not may prefer the contents of yesterday’s entry, from Paltrow’s other birthday.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Friday August 19, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — m759 @ 2:00 PM

Mathematics and Narrative

"There is a pleasantly discursive treatment of Pontius Pilate's unanswered question 'What is truth?'"

H. S. M. Coxeter, 1987, introduction to Richard J. Trudeau's remarks on the "Story Theory" of truth as opposed to  the "Diamond Theory" of truth " in The Non-Euclidean Revolution

"I had an epiphany: I thought 'Oh my God, this is it! People are talking about elliptic curves and of course they think they are talking mathematics. But are they really? Or are they talking about stories?'"

An organizer of last month's "Mathematics and Narrative" conference

"A new epistemology is emerging to replace the Diamond Theory of truth. I will call it the 'Story Theory' of truth: There are no diamonds. People make up stories about what they experience. Stories that catch on are called 'true.' The Story Theory of truth is itself a story that is catching on. It is being told and retold, with increasing frequency, by thinkers of many stripes*…."

Richard J. Trudeau in The Non-Euclidean Revolution

"'Deniers' of truth… insist that each of us is trapped in his own point of view; we make up stories about the world and, in an exercise of power, try to impose them on others."

— Jim Holt in this week's New Yorker magazine.  Click on the box below.

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix05B/050819-Critic4.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

* Many stripes

   "What disciplines were represented at the meeting?"
   "Apart from historians, you mean? Oh, many: writers, artists, philosophers, semioticians, cognitive psychologists – you name it."


An organizer of last month's "Mathematics and Narrative" conference

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Thursday August 11, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 8:16 AM

Kaleidoscope, continued

From Clifford Geertz, The Cerebral Savage:

"Savage logic works like a kaleidoscope whose chips can fall into a variety of patterns while remaining unchanged in quantity, form, or color. The number of patterns producible in this way may be large if the chips are numerous and varied enough, but it is not infinite. The patterns consist in the disposition of the chips vis-a-vis one another (that is, they are a function of the relationships among the chips rather than their individual properties considered separately).  And their range of possible transformations is strictly determined by the construction of the kaleidoscope, the inner law which governs its operation. And so it is too with savage thought.  Both anecdotal and geometric, it builds coherent structures out of 'the odds and ends left over from psychological or historical process.'

These odds and ends, the chips of the kaleidoscope, are images drawn from myth, ritual, magic, and empirical lore….  as in a kaleidoscope, one always sees the chips distributed in some pattern, however ill-formed or irregular.   But, as in a kaleidoscope, they are detachable from these structures and arrangeable into different ones of a similar sort….  Levi-Strauss generalizes this permutational view of thinking to savage thought in general.  It is all a matter of shuffling discrete (and concrete) images–totem animals, sacred colors, wind directions, sun deities, or whatever–so as to produce symbolic structures capable of formulating and communicating objective (which is not to say accurate) analyses of the social and physical worlds.

…. And the point is general.  The relationship between a symbolic structure and its referent, the basis of its meaning,  is fundamentally 'logical,' a coincidence of form– not affective, not historical, not functional.  Savage thought is frozen reason and anthropology is, like music and mathematics, 'one of the few true vocations.'

Or like linguistics."

Edward Sapir on Linguistics, Mathematics, and Music:

"… linguistics has also that profoundly serene and satisfying quality which inheres in mathematics and in music and which may be described as the creation out of simple elements of a self-contained universe of forms.  Linguistics has neither the sweep nor the instrumental power of mathematics, nor has it the universal aesthetic appeal of music.  But under its crabbed, technical, appearance there lies hidden the same classical spirit, the same freedom in restraint, which animates mathematics and music at their purest."

— Edward Sapir, "The Grammarian and his Language,"
  American Mercury 1:149-155,1924

From Robert de Marrais, Canonical Collage-oscopes:

"…underwriting the form languages of ever more domains of mathematics is a set of deep patterns which not only offer access to a kind of ideality that Plato claimed to see the universe as created with in the Timaeus; more than this, the realm of Platonic forms is itself subsumed in this new set of design elements– and their most general instances are not the regular solids, but crystallographic reflection groups.  You know, those things the non-professionals call . . . kaleidoscopes! *  (In the next exciting episode, we'll see how Derrida claims mathematics is the key to freeing us from 'logocentrism' **— then ask him why, then, he jettisoned the deepest structures of mathematical patterning just to make his name…)

* H. S. M. Coxeter, Regular Polytopes (New York: Dover, 1973) is the great classic text by a great creative force in this beautiful area of geometry  (A polytope is an n-dimensional analog of a polygon or polyhedron.  Chapter V of this book is entitled 'The Kaleidoscope'….)

** … contemporary with the Johns Hopkins hatchet job that won him American marketshare, Derrida was also being subjected to a series of probing interviews in Paris by the hometown crowd.  He first gained academic notoriety in France for his book-length reading of Husserl's two-dozen-page essay on 'The Origin of Geometry.'  The interviews were collected under the rubric of Positions (Chicago: U. of Chicago Press, 1981…).  On pp. 34-5 he says the following: 'the resistance to logico-mathematical notation has always been the signature of logocentrism and phonologism in the event to which they have dominated metaphysics and the classical semiological and linguistic projects…. A grammatology that would break with this system of presuppositions, then, must in effect liberate the mathematization of language…. The effective progress of mathematical notation thus goes along with the deconstruction of metaphysics, with the profound renewal of mathematics itself, and the concept of science for which mathematics has always been the model.'  Nice campaign speech, Jacques; but as we'll see, you reneged on your promise not just with the kaleidoscope (and we'll investigate, in depth, the many layers of contradiction and cluelessness you put on display in that disingenuous 'playing to the house'); no, we'll see how, at numerous other critical junctures, you instinctively took the wrong fork in the road whenever mathematical issues arose… henceforth, monsieur, as Joe Louis once said, 'You can run, but you just can't hide.'…."

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Thursday March 31, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 3:16 AM

“In collage, juxtaposition is everything.”

    April 2, 2004

The above material may be regarded
as commemorating the March 31
birth of René Descartes
 and death of H. S. M. Coxeter.

For material related to Descartes,
see The Line.
For material related to Coxeter,
see Art Wars.

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Wednesday March 31, 2004

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — m759 @ 12:25 AM

To Be

A Jesuit cites Quine:

"To be is to be the value of a variable."

— Willard Van Orman Quine, cited by Joseph T. Clark, S. J., in Conventional Logic and Modern Logic: A Prelude to Transition,  Woodstock, MD: Woodstock College Press, 1952, to which Quine contributed a preface.

Quine died in 2000 on Xmas Day.

From a July 26, 2003, entry,
The Transcendent Signified,
on an essay by mathematician
Michael Harris:



From a December 10, 2003, entry:

Putting Descartes Before Dehors


"Descartes déclare que c'est en moi, non hors de moi, en moi, non dans le monde, que je pourrais voir si quelque chose existe hors de moi."

ATRIUM, Philosophie

For further details, see ART WARS.

The above material may be regarded as commemorating the March 31 birth of René Descartes and death of H. S. M. Coxeter.

For further details, see

Plato, Pegasus, and the Evening Star.

Monday, April 28, 2003

Monday April 28, 2003

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — m759 @ 12:07 AM


Toward Eternity

April is Poetry Month, according to the Academy of American Poets.  It is also Mathematics Awareness Month, funded by the National Security Agency; this year's theme is "Mathematics and Art."

Some previous journal entries for this month seem to be summarized by Emily Dickinson's remarks:

"Because I could not stop for Death–
He kindly stopped for me–
The Carriage held but just Ourselves–
And Immortality.

Since then–'tis Centuries–and yet
Feels shorter than the Day
I first surmised the Horses' Heads
Were toward Eternity– "


Consider the following journal entries from April 7, 2003:

Math Awareness Month

April is Math Awareness Month.
This year's theme is "mathematics and art."


An Offer He Couldn't Refuse

Today's birthday:  Francis Ford Coppola is 64.

"There is a pleasantly discursive treatment
of Pontius Pilate's unanswered question
'What is truth?'."

H. S. M. Coxeter, 1987, introduction to Richard J. Trudeau's remarks on the "Story Theory" of truth as opposed to the "Diamond Theory" of truth in The Non-Euclidean Revolution


From a website titled simply Sinatra:

"Then came From Here to Eternity. Sinatra lobbied hard for the role, practically getting on his knees to secure the role of the street smart punk G.I. Maggio. He sensed this was a role that could revive his career, and his instincts were right. There are lots of stories about how Columbia Studio head Harry Cohn was convinced to give the role to Sinatra, the most famous of which is expanded upon in the horse's head sequence in The Godfather. Maybe no one will know the truth about that. The one truth we do know is that the feisty New Jersey actor won the Academy Award as Best Supporting Actor for his work in From Here to Eternity. It was no looking back from then on."

From a note on geometry of April 28, 1985:

The "horse's head" figure above is from a note I wrote on this date 18 years ago.  The following journal entry from April 4, 2003, gives some details:

The Eight

Today, the fourth day of the fourth month, plays an important part in Katherine Neville's The Eight.  Let us honor this work, perhaps the greatest bad novel of the twentieth century, by reflecting on some properties of the number eight.  Consider eight rectangular cells arranged in an array of four rows and two columns.  Let us label these cells with coordinates, then apply a permutation.







The resulting set of arrows that indicate the movement of cells in a permutation (known as a Singer 7-cycle) outlines rather neatly, in view of the chess theme of The Eight, a knight.  This makes as much sense as anything in Neville's fiction, and has the merit of being based on fact.  It also, albeit rather crudely, illustrates the "Mathematics and Art" theme of this year's Mathematics Awareness Month.

The visual appearance of the "knight" permutation is less important than the fact that it leads to a construction (due to R. T. Curtis) of the Mathieu group M24 (via the Curtis Miracle Octad Generator), which in turn leads logically to the Monster group and to related "moonshine" investigations in the theory of modular functions.   See also "Pieces of Eight," by Robert L. Griess.

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