See “Pleasantly Discursive” in this journal.
Friday, April 10, 2020
Friday, April 19, 2019
Pleasantly Discursive Day
” There is a pleasantly discursive treatment
of Pontius Pilate’s unanswered question
‘What is truth?’ ”
— Coxeter, 1987, introduction to Trudeau’s
The NonEuclidean Revolution
Wednesday, January 2, 2019
“Pleasantly Discursive” Continues.
From this journal on December 13th, 2016 —
" There is a pleasantly discursive treatment
of Pontius Pilate’s unanswered question
‘What is truth?’ "
— Coxeter, 1987, introduction to Trudeau’s
The NonEuclidean Revolution
Also on December 13th, 2016 —
Tuesday, January 9, 2018
Unpleasantly Discursive
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 NonEuclidean 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 crossdagger.
"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
Friday, March 25, 2016
Pleasantly Discursive
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 NonEuclidean 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
Tuesday, August 10, 2021
Discursive
The structure in the previous post (three trios), though historically significant,
offers less opportunity for contrapuntal variation than . . .
Related remarks for Pleasantly Discursive Day —
Friday, April 2, 2021
Friday, December 16, 2016
Memory, History, Geometry
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 NonEuclidean Revolution
Update of 10 AM ET — Related material, with an elementary example:
Posts tagged "Defining Form." The example —
Tuesday, December 13, 2016
The Thirteenth Novel
John Updike on Don DeLillo's thirteenth novel, Cosmopolis —
" DeLillo’s postChristian search for 'an order at some deep level'
has brought him to global computerization:
'the zerooneness 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 NonEuclidean Revolution
Friday, May 6, 2016
ART WARS continues…
"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 NonEuclidean Revolution
Tuesday, May 1, 2012
What is Truth? (continued)
"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…
SAT
(Not a Scholastic Aptitude Test)
"In computer science, satisfiability (often written
in all capitals or abbreviated SAT) is the problem
of determining if the variables of a given Boolean
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
Friday, April 22, 2011
Romancing the Hyperspace
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—
Richard J. Trudeau in The NonEuclidean Revolution , chapter on "Geometry and the Diamond Theory of Truth"– "… Plato and Kant, and most of the philosophers and scientists in the 2200year interval between them, did share the following general presumptions: (1) Diamonds– informative, certain truths about the world– exist. 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 nonEuclidean* figures above illustrate concepts from a 1976 monograph, also called "Diamond Theory." Although nonEuclidean,* the theorems of the 1976 "Diamond Theory" are also, in Trudeau's terminology, diamonds. * "NonEuclidean" 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 .
Saturday, February 26, 2011
The Pope’s Speech
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
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Theories: An Outline
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 NonEuclidean 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.)
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Sunday September 27, 2009
Discursive Treatment
Unitarian Universalist Origins: Our Historic Faith—
“In sixteenthcentury 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 nonEuclidean 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 manmade, 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, nonEuclidean 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 NonEuclidean 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…
of cross:
Monday, July 13, 2009
Monday July 13, 2009
— Wallace Stevens
The above was, like the
previous entry, suggested by
this morning’s monumentally
tasteless NY Times obit page.
The author of the
“pleasantly discursive”
remark has been called both
“King of Geometry” and
“King of Infinite Space.”
He lived in Toronto.
Detail of this morning’s Times
(click for larger version) —
(Corcoran.com is the website of
a New York City real estate firm.
Today’s Bing.com search image is
a view of the city from Central Park.)
“We keep coming back
and coming back/To the real….”
— Wallace Stevens
Friday, April 10, 2009
Friday April 10, 2009
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 NonEuclidean Revolution
Consider the following question in a paper cited by V. S. Varadarajan:
E. G. Beltrametti, “Can a finite geometry describe physical spacetime?” Universita degli studi di Perugia, Atti del convegno di geometria combinatoria e sue applicazioni, Perugia 1971, 57–62.
Simplifying:
“Can a finite geometry describe physical space?”
Simplifying further:
“Yes. Vide ‘The Eightfold Cube.'”
Friday, January 30, 2009
Friday January 30, 2009
This journal on October 8, 2008, at noon: “There is a pleasantly discursive treatment of Pontius Pilate’s unanswered question ‘What is truth?'” 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 “Future readers may consider Updike our era’s Mozart; Mozart was once written off as a tooprolific composer of ‘charming nothings,’ and some speak of Updike that way.” — Comment by BPJ 
what day is not both?”
— John Updike
Updike died on January 27.
On the same date,
Mozart was born.
Requiem
Mr. Best entered, tall, young, mild, light. He bore in his hand with grace a notebook, new, large, clean, bright. — James Joyce, Ulysses, 
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Wednesday October 8, 2008
Serious Numbers
A Yom Kippur
Meditation
"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 NonEuclidean 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.)
Excerpt from
The NonEuclidean 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 "nonEuclidean 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.
Thursday, March 6, 2008
Thursday March 6, 2008
“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 FourColor Conjecture
“By far the most important structure in design theory is the Steiner system S(5, 8, 24).”
This Steiner system is closely connected to M_{24} and to the extended binary Golay code. Brouwer gives an elegant construction of that code (and therefore of M_{24}):
“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
— Op. cit., p. 719
Finite Geometry of
the Square and Cube
and
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.
Friday, January 25, 2008
Friday January 25, 2008
Requiem for a Curator
"There is a pleasantly discursive treatment
of Pontius Pilate's unanswered question
'What is truth?'"
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."
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'seye of the author"
— Dorothy Sayers, 
"one complete and free eye, which can simultaneously see in all directions"
— Vladimir Nabokov, 
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Tuesday April 25, 2006
“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 NonEuclidean 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)
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, cowritten 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.”
Sunday, November 20, 2005
Sunday November 20, 2005
“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 NonEuclidean 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 NonEuclidean 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.)
Exercise of Power:
Show that a white horse–
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 )–
a major influence on Cervantes–
was published, and in 1910
the Mexican Revolution began.
Illustration:
Zapata by Diego Rivera,
Museum of Modern Art,
New York
“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 Godsupplanters– Fielding, Balzac, Dickens, Flaubert, Tolstoy, Joyce, Faulkner– who try to create in their novels an allencompassing reality.'”
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
Wednesday September 28, 2005
continued:
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 NonEuclidean 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 NonEuclidean 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 NonEuclidean Revolution,
Birkhauser Boston,
1987, pages 256 and 259
An example of
the story theory of truth:
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
Mathematics and Narrative
continued
"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 NonEuclidean 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 NonEuclidean 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.
* 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
Monday, April 28, 2003
Monday April 28, 2003
ART WARS:
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– "
Math Awareness Month April is Math Awareness Month.

An Offer He Couldn't Refuse Today's birthday: Francis Ford Coppola is 64.
From a note on geometry of April 28, 1985: 
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 7cycle) 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 M_{24} (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. 
Monday, April 7, 2003
Monday April 7, 2003
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 NonEuclidean Revolution
"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: