Spring 2003
PNWMAA Newsletter

Meeting at Whitman College
2004 Meeting in Alaska
High School Math Excel
Project NExT
Math for Business Decisions
MAA PREP Workshops
MAA's PMET Program
Math Awareness Month
Section Logo Contest
Section Officers


Math Awareness Month: April, 2003

Mathematics and Art

This fish design can be interpreted as a repeating pattern in the Poincaré circle model of hyperbolic geometry. It is based on the regular tessellation {10,3} and fish like those in in M. C. Escher's print Circle Limit III. For more information about the design, visit

Reproduced with permission from Drexel University, copyright 2003 by The Math Forum @ Drexel. All rights reserved.

Mathematics Awareness Month is held in April each year, with a goal of increasing public understanding of and appreciation for mathematics. Each year, a theme is selected for the month; this year's theme focuses on the connections between mathematics and art.

The connection between mathematics and art goes back thousands of years. The ancient Greeks and Romans used mathematics in sculptures and to design aesthetically pleasing buildings. In the 15th century Leonardo da Vinci wrote “Let no one read me who is not a mathematician.” In the 16th century Durer employed mathematics to introduce perspective in drawings. In the 18th and 19th centuries mathematics was extensively used in the design of Gothic cathedrals, Rose windows, mosaics and tilings. In the 20th century geometric forms were fundamental to the cubists and many abstract expressionists. In recent decades several award winning sculptors have used topology as the basis for their pieces. The close connection between mathematics and art is most readily seen in the works of the Dutch artist M. C. Escher. Among the mathematical ideas represented in his work are: infinity, Möbius bands, tessellations, deformations, reflections, Platonic solids, spirals, symmetry, and the hyperbolic plane. The pattern above was inspired by one of Escher’s hyperbolic prints.

The Mathematics Awareness Month poster for 2003 features an Escher-like computer-drawn tessellation of the Poincaré model of hyperbolic plane (shown above) created by Douglas Dunham, University of Minnesota Duluth. Copies of the poster can be purchased through the Mathematics Awareness Month web site http://mathforum.org/mam/. The web site also includes ideas for activities for Mathematics Awareness Month and a variety of essays, links, and recommended books and speakers.


Copyright © 2003
Pacific Northwest Section, Mathematical Association of America.
Send questions or comments to Brian Gill, Newsletter Editor, or call (206) 281-2954.