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Friday, February 16, 2018

Two Kinds of Symmetry

Filed under: General,Geometry — m759 @ 11:29 PM

The Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) at Princeton in its Fall 2015 Letter 
revived "Beautiful Mathematics" as a title:

This ugly phrase was earlier used by Truman State University
professor Martin Erickson as a book title. See below. 

In the same IAS Fall 2015 Letter appear the following remarks
by Freeman Dyson —

". . . a special case of a much deeper connection that Ian Macdonald 
discovered between two kinds of symmetry which we call modular and affine.
The two kinds of symmetry were originally found in separate parts of science,
modular in pure mathematics and affine in physics. Modular symmetry is
displayed for everyone to see in the drawings of flying angels and devils
by the artist Maurits Escher. Escher understood the mathematics and got the
details right. Affine symmetry is displayed in the peculiar groupings of particles
created by physicists with high-energy accelerators. The mathematician
Robert Langlands was the first to conjecture a connection between these and
other kinds of symmetry. . . ." (Wikipedia link added.)

The adjective "modular"  might aptly be applied to . . .

The adjective "affine"  might aptly be applied to . . .

From 'Beautiful Mathematics,' by Martin Erickson, an excerpt on the Cullinane diamond theorem (with source not mentioned)

The geometry of the 4×4 square combines modular symmetry
(i.e., related to theta functions) with the affine symmetry above.

Hudson's 1905 discussion of modular symmetry (that of Rosenhain
tetrads and Göpel tetrads) in the 4×4 square used a parametrization
of that square by the digit 0 and the fifteen 2-subsets of a 6-set, but 
did not discuss the 4×4 square as an affine space.

For the connection of the 15 Kummer modular 2-subsets with the 16-
element affine space over the two-element Galois field GF(2), see my note
of May 26, 1986, "The 2-subsets of a 6-set are the points of a PG(3,2)" —

— and the affine structure in the 1979 AMS abstract
"Symmetry invariance in a diamond ring" —

For some historical background on the symmetry investigations by
Dyson and Macdonald, see Dyson's 1972 article "MIssed Opportunities."

For Macdonald's own  use of the words "modular" and "affine," see
Macdonald, I. G., "Affine Lie algebras and modular forms," 
Séminaire N. Bourbaki , Vol. 23 (1980-1981), Talk no. 577, pp. 258-276.

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