Thursday, August 4, 2011

Midnight in Oslo

Filed under: General,Geometry — m759 @ 6:00 PM

For Norway's Niels Henrik Abel (1802-1829)
on his birthday, August Fifth

(6 PM Aug. 4, Eastern Time, is 12 AM Aug. 5 in Oslo.)


Plato's Diamond

The above version by Peter Pesic is from Chapter I of his book Abel's Proof , titled "The Scandal of the Irrational." Plato's diamond also occurs in a much later mathematical story that might be called "The Scandal of the Noncontinuous." The story—


"These passages suggest that the Form is a character or set of characters common to a number of things, i.e. the feature in reality which corresponds to a general word. But Plato also uses language which suggests not only that the forms exist separately (χωριστά ) from all the particulars, but also that each form is a peculiarly accurate or good particular of its own kind, i.e. the standard particular of the kind in question or the model (παράδειγμα ) [i.e. paradigm ] to which other particulars approximate….

… Both in the Republic  and in the Sophist  there is a strong suggestion that correct thinking is following out the connexions between Forms. The model is mathematical thinking, e.g. the proof given in the Meno  that the square on the diagonal is double the original square in area."

– William and Martha Kneale, The Development of Logic , Oxford University Press paperback, 1985

Plato's paradigm in the Meno


Changed paradigm in the diamond theorem (2×2 case) —


Aspects of the paradigm change—

Monochrome figures to
   colored figures

Areas to

Continuous transformations to
   non-continuous transformations

Euclidean geometry to
   finite geometry

Euclidean quantities to
   finite fields

The 24 patterns resulting from the paradigm change—


Each pattern has some ordinary or color-interchange symmetry.

This is the 2×2 case of a more general result. The patterns become more interesting in the 4×4 case. For their relationship to finite geometry and finite fields, see the diamond theorem.

Related material: Plato's Diamond by Oslo artist Josefine Lyche.

Plato’s Ghost  evokes Yeats’s lament that any claim to worldly perfection inevitably is proven wrong by the philosopher’s ghost….”

— Princeton University Press on Plato’s Ghost: The Modernist Transformation of Mathematics  (by Jeremy Gray, September 2008)

"Remember me to her."

— Closing words of the Algis Budrys novel Rogue Moon .

Background— Some posts in this journal related to Abel or to random thoughts from his birthday.

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