Friday, November 24, 2017

The Matrix Meets the Grid

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

The Matrix —

  The Grid —

  Picturing the Witt Construction

     "Read something that means something." — New Yorker  ad

Wednesday, May 25, 2016


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

"Studies of spin-½ theories in the framework of projective geometry
have been undertaken before." — Y. Jack Ng  and H. van Dam
February 20, 2009

For one such framework,* see posts from that same date 
four years earlier — February 20, 2005.

* A 4×4 array. See the 19771978, and 1986 versions by 
Steven H. Cullinane,   the 1987 version by R. T. Curtis, and
the 1988 Conway-Sloane version illustrated below —

Cullinane, 1977

IMAGE- Hypercube and 4x4 matrix from the 1976 'Diamond Theory' preprint, as excerpted in 'Computer Graphics and Art'

Cullinane, 1978

Cullinane, 1986

Curtis, 1987

Update of 10:42 PM ET on Sunday, June 19, 2016 —

The above images are precursors to

Conway and Sloane, 1988

Update of 10 AM ET Sept. 16, 2016 — The excerpt from the
1977 "Diamond Theory" article was added above.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Subjective Quality

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 6:01 AM

The previous post deals in part with a figure from the 1988 book
Sphere Packings, Lattices and Groups , by J. H. Conway and
N. J. A. Sloane.

Siobhan Roberts recently wrote a book about the first of these
authors, Conway.  I just discovered that last fall she also had an
article about the second author, Sloane, published:

"How to Build a Search Engine for Mathematics,"
Nautilus , Oct 22, 2015.

Meanwhile, in this  journal

Log24 on that same date, Oct. 22, 2015 —

Roberts's remarks on Conway and later on Sloane are perhaps
examples of subjective  quality, as opposed to the objective  quality
sought, if not found, by Alexander, and exemplified by the
above bijection discussed here  last October.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Sunday Appetizer from 1984

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

Judith Shulevitz in The New York Times
on Sunday, July 18, 2010
(quoted here Aug. 15, 2010) —

“What would an organic Christian Sabbath look like today?”

The 2015 German edition of Beautiful Mathematics ,
a 2011 Mathematical Association of America (MAA) book,
was retitled Mathematische Appetithäppchen —
Mathematical Appetizers . The German edition mentions
the author's source, omitted in the original American edition,
for his section 5.17, "A Group of Operations" (in German,
5.17, "Eine Gruppe von Operationen") —  

Mathematische Appetithäppchen:
Faszinierende Bilder. Packende Formeln. Reizvolle Sätze

Autor: Erickson, Martin —

"Weitere Informationen zu diesem Themenkreis finden sich
unter http://​www.​encyclopediaofma​th.​org/​index.​php/​
und http://​finitegeometry.​org/​sc/​gen/​coord.​html ."

That source was a document that has been on the Web
since 2002. The document was submitted to the MAA
in 1984 but was rejected. The German edition omits the
document's title, and describes it as merely a source for
"further information on this subject area."

The title of the document, "Binary Coordinate Systems,"
is highly relevant to figure 11.16c on page 312 of a book
published four years after the document was written: the 
1988 first edition of Sphere Packings, Lattices and Groups
by J. H. Conway and N. J. A. Sloane —

A passage from the 1984 document —

Monday, October 6, 2014


Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 11:00 AM

From the MacTutor biography of Otto Neugebauer:

“… two projects which would be among the most important
contributions anyone has made to mathematics. He persuaded
Springer-Verlag to publish a journal reviewing all mathematical
publications, which would complement their reviewing journals
in other topics. In 1931 the first issue of 
Zentralblatt für Matematik
appeared, edited by Neugebauer.” [Mathematical Reviews  was
the other project.]

Neugebauer appeared in Sunday morning’s post In Nomine Patris .

A review from Zentralblatt  appeared in the Story Creep link from
this morning’s post Mysterious Correspondences.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Three Constructions of the Miracle Octad Generator

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — m759 @ 12:24 PM

IMAGE- Two constructions, by Turyn/Curtis, and by Conway, of the Miracle Octad Generator

See also a Log24 post on this subject from Dec. 14, 2013,
especially (scroll down) the update of March 9, 2014.

Related material on the Turyn-Curtis construction
from the University of Cambridge —

— Slide by “Dr. Parker” — Apparently Richard A. Parker —
Lecture 4, “Discovering M24,” in slides for lectures 1-8 from lectures
at Cambridge in 2010-2011 on “Sporadic and Related Groups.”
See also the Parker lectures of 2012-2013 on the same topic.

A third construction of Curtis’s 35  4×6  1976 MOG arrays would use
Cullinane’s analysis of the 4×4 subarrays’ affine and projective structure,
and point out the fact that Conwell’s 1910 correspondence of the 35
4+4-partitions of an 8-set with the 35 lines of the projective 3-space
over the 2-element field, PG(3, 2), is essentially the same correspondence
as that constituting Curtis’s 1976 MOG.

See The Diamond Theorem,  Finite RelativityGalois Space,
Generating the Octad Generator, and The Klein Correspondence.

Update of March 22-March 23 —

Adding together as (0,1)-matrices over GF(2) the black parts (black
squares as 1’s, all other squares as 0’s) of the 35  4×6 arrays of the 1976
Curtis MOG would then reveal*  the symmetric role played in octads
by what Curtis called the heavy brick , and so reveal also the action of
S3 on the three Curtis bricks that leaves invariant the set of all 759
octads of the S(5, 8, 24) constructed from the 35  MOG arrays.  For more
details of this “by-hand” construction, see Geometry of the 4×4 Square.
For the mathematical properties of the S(5, 8, 24), it is convenient to
have a separate construction,  not  by hand (such as Turyn’s), of the
extended binary Golay code. See the Brouwer preprint quoted above.

* “Then a miracle occurs,” as in the classic 1977 Sidney Harris cartoon.

Illustration of array addition from March 23 —

IMAGE- Discovery of the S_3 action on bricks in the Conwell-Cullinane 'by-hand' approach to octad-building

Friday, January 17, 2014

The 4×4 Relativity Problem

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

The sixteen-dot square array in yesterday’s noon post suggests
the following remarks.

“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

The Galois tesseract  appeared in an early form in the journal
Computer Graphics and Art , Vol. 2, No. 1, February 1977—

IMAGE- Hypercube and 4x4 matrix from the 1976 'Diamond Theory' preprint, as excerpted in 'Computer Graphics and Art'

The 1977 matrix Q is echoed in the following from 2002—

IMAGE- Dolgachev and Keum, coordinatization of the 4x4 array in 'Birational Automorphisms of Quartic Hessian Surfaces,' AMS Transactions, 2002

A different representation of Cullinane’s 1977 square model of the
16-point affine geometry over the two-element Galois field GF(2)
is supplied by Conway and Sloane in Sphere Packings, Lattices and Groups   
(first published in 1988) :

IMAGE- The Galois tesseract as a four-dimensional vector space, from a diagram by Conway and Sloane in 'Sphere Packings, Lattices, and Groups'

Here a, b, c, d   are basis vectors in the vector 4-space over GF(2).
(For a 1979 version of this vector space, see AMS Abstract 79T-A37.)

See also a 2011 publication of the Mathematical Association of America —

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

Sunday, December 15, 2013


Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 11:00 AM

Odin's Jewel

Jim Holt, the author of remarks in yesterday's
Saturday evening post

"It turns out that the Kyoto school of Buddhism
makes Heidegger seem like Rush Limbaugh—
it’s so rarified, I’ve never been able to
understand it at all. I’ve been knocking my head
against it for years."

Vanity Fair Daily , July 16, 2012

Backstory Odin + Jewel in this journal.

See also Odin on the Kyoto school —

For another version of Odin's jewel, see Log24
on the date— July 16, 2012— that Holt's Vanity Fair
remarks were published. Scroll to the bottom of the
"Mapping Problem continued" post for an instance of
the Galois tesseract —

IMAGE- The Galois tesseract as a four-dimensional vector space, from a diagram by Conway and Sloane in 'Sphere Packings, Lattices, and Groups'

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Beautiful Mathematics

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — m759 @ 7:59 PM

The title, which I dislike, is taken from a 2011 publication
of the MAA, also sold by Cambridge University Press.

Some material relevant to the title adjective:

"For those who have learned something of higher mathematics, nothing could be more natural than to use the word 'beautiful' in connection with it. Mathematical beauty, like the beauty of, say, a late Beethoven quartet, arises from a combination of strangeness and inevitability. Simply defined abstractions disclose hidden quirks and complexities. Seemingly unrelated structures turn out to have mysterious correspondences. Uncanny patterns emerge, and they remain uncanny even after being underwritten by the rigor of logic."— Jim Holt, opening of a book review in the Dec. 5, 2013, issue of The New York Review of Books

Some relevant links—

The above list was updated on Jan. 31, 2014, to include the
"Strangeness" and "Hidden quirks" links.  See also a post of
​Jan. 31, 2014.

Update of March 9, 2014 —

The link "Simply defined abstractions" is to the construction of the Steiner
system S(5, 8, 24) described by R. T. Curtis in his 1976 paper defining the
Miracle Octad Generator. It should be noted that this construction is due
to Richard J. Turyn, in a 1967 Sylvania research report. (See Emily Jennings's
talk of 1 Nov. 2012.) Compare  the Curtis construction, written in 1974,
with the Turyn construction of 1967 as described in Sphere Packings, Lattices
and Groups , by J. H. Conway and N. J. A. Sloane (first published in 1988).

Sunday, May 19, 2013


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

Best vs. Bester

The previous post ended with a reference mentioning Rosenhain.

For a recent application of Rosenhain's work, see
Desargues via Rosenhain (April 1, 2013).

From the next day, April 2, 2013:

"The proof of Desargues' theorem of projective geometry
comes as close as a proof can to the Zen ideal.
It can be summarized in two words: 'I see!' "

– Gian-Carlo Rota in Indiscrete Thoughts (1997)

Also in that book, originally from a review in Advances in Mathematics ,
Vol. 84, Number 1, Nov. 1990, p. 136:
IMAGE- Rota's review of 'Sphere Packings, Lattices and Groups'-- in a word, 'best'

See, too, in the Conway-Sloane book, the Galois tesseract  
and, in this journal, Geometry for Jews and The Deceivers , by Bester.

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.”

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.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Mapping Problem continued

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 2:56 AM

Another approach to the square-to-triangle
mapping problem (see also previous post)—

IMAGE- Triangular analogs of the hyperplanes in the square model of PG(3,2)

For the square model referred to in the above picture, see (for instance)

Coordinates for the 16 points in the triangular arrays 
of the corresponding affine space may be deduced
from the patterns in the projective-hyperplanes array above.

This should solve the inverse problem of mapping,
in a natural way, the triangular array of 16 points 
to the square array of 16 points.

Update of 9:35 AM ET July 16, 2012:

Note that the square model's 15 hyperplanes S 
and the triangular model's 15 hyperplanes T —

— share the following 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.)

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Galois Tesseract (continued)

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — m759 @ 1:00 PM

A post of September 1, The Galois Tesseract, noted that the interplay
of algebraic and geometric properties within the 4×4 array that forms
two-thirds of the Curtis Miracle Octad Generator (MOG) may first have
been described by Cullinane (AMS abstract 79T-A37, Notices , Feb. 1979).

Here is some supporting material—


The passage from Carmichael above emphasizes the importance of
the 4×4 square within the MOG.

The passage from Conway and Sloane, in a book whose first edition
was published in 1988, makes explicit the structure of the MOG's
4×4 square as the affine 4-space over the 2-element Galois field.

The passage from Curtis (1974, published in 1976) describes 35 sets
of four "special tetrads" within the 4×4 square of the MOG. These
correspond to the 35 sets of four parallel 4-point affine planes within
the square. Curtis, however, in 1976 makes no mention of the affine
structure, characterizing his 140 "special tetrads" rather by the parity
of their intersections with the square's rows and columns.

The affine structure appears in the 1979 abstract mentioned above—

IMAGE- An AMS abstract from 1979 showing how the affine group AGL(4,2) of 322,560 transformations acts on a 4x4 square

The "35 structures" of the abstract were listed, with an application to
Latin-square orthogonality, in a note from December 1978

IMAGE- Projective-space structure and Latin-square orthogonality in a set of 35 square arrays

See also a 1987 article by R. T. Curtis—

Further elementary techniques using the miracle octad generator
, by R. T. Curtis. Abstract:

“In this paper we describe various techniques, some of which are already used by devotees of the art, which relate certain maximal subgroups of the Mathieu group M24, as seen in the MOG, to matrix groups over finite fields. We hope to bring out the wealth of algebraic structure* underlying the device and to enable the reader to move freely between these matrices and permutations. Perhaps the MOG was mis-named as simply an ‘octad generator’; in this paper we intend to show that it is in reality a natural diagram of the binary Golay code.”

(Received July 20 1987)

Proceedings of the Edinburgh Mathematical Society (Series 2) (1989), 32: 345-353

* For instance:

Algebraic structure in the 4x4 square, by Cullinane (1985) and Curtis (1987)

Update of Sept. 4— This post is now a page at finitegeometry.org.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Galois Tesseract

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 7:11 PM

Click to enlarge

IMAGE- The Galois Tesseract, 1979-1999

IMAGE- Review of Conway and Sloane's 'Sphere Packings...' by Rota

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Schwartz Notes

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

A Google search today for material on the Web that puts the diamond theorem
in context yielded a satisfyingly complete list. (See the first 21 results.)
(Customization based on signed-out search activity was disabled.)

The same search limited to results from only the past month yielded,
in addition, the following—


This turns out to be a document by one Richard Evan Schwartz,
Chancellor's Professor of Mathematics at Brown University.

Pages 12-14 of the document, which is untitled, undated, and
unsigned, discuss the finite-geometry background of the R.T.
Curtis Miracle Octad Generator (MOG) . As today's earlier search indicates,
this is closely related to the diamond theorem. The section relating
the geometry to the MOG is titled "The MOG and Projective Space."
It does not mention my own work.

See Schwartz's page 12, page 13, and page 14.

Compare to the web pages from today's earlier search.

There are no references at the end of the Schwartz document,
but there is this at the beginning—

These are some notes on error correcting codes. Two good sources for
this material are
From Error Correcting Codes through Sphere Packings to Simple Groups ,
by Thomas Thompson.
Sphere Packings, Lattices, and Simple Groups  by J. H. Conway and N.
Planet Math (on the internet) also some information.

It seems clear that these inadequate remarks by Schwartz on his sources
can and should be expanded.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Competing MOG Definitions

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

A recently created Wikipedia article says that  "The Miracle Octad Generator [MOG] is an array of coordinates, arranged in four rows and six columns, capable of describing any point in 24-dimensional space…." (Clearly any  array with 24 parts is so capable.) The article ignores the fact that the MOG, as defined by R.T. Curtis in 1976, is not  an array of coordinates, but rather a picture of a correspondence between two sets, each containing 35 structures. (As a later commentator has remarked, this correspondence is a well-known one that preserves a certain incidence property. See Eightfold Geometry.)

From the 1976 paper defining the MOG—

"There is a correspondence between the two systems of 35 groups, which is illustrated in Fig. 4 (the MOG or Miracle Octad Generator)." —R.T. Curtis, "A New Combinatorial Approach to M24," Mathematical Proceedings of the Cambridge Philosophical Society  (1976), 79: 25-42


Curtis's 1976 Fig. 4. (The MOG.)

The Wikipedia article, like a similar article at PlanetMath, is based on a different definition, from a book first published in 1988—


I have not seen the 1973 Curtis paper, so I do not know whether it uses the 35-sets correspondence definition or the 6×4 array definition. The remarks of Conway and Sloane on page 312 of the 1998 edition of their book about "Curtis's original way of finding octads in the MOG [Cur2]" indicate that the correspondence definition was the one Curtis used in 1973—


Here the picture of  "the 35 standard sextets of the MOG"
is very like (modulo a reflection) Curtis's 1976 picture
of the MOG as a correspondence between two 35-sets.

A later paper by Curtis does  use the array definition. See "Further Elementary Techniques Using the Miracle Octad Generator," Proceedings of the Edinburgh Mathematical Society  (1989) 32, 345-353.

The array definition is better suited to Conway's use of his hexacode  to describe octads, but it obscures the close connection of the MOG with finite geometry. That connection, apparent in the phrases "vector space structure in the standard square" and "parallel 2-spaces" (Conway and Sloane, third ed., p. 312, illustrated above), was not discussed in the 1976 Curtis paper.  See my own page on the MOG at finitegeometry.org.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Wednesday November 30, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 1:00 AM

For St. Andrew’s Day

The miraculous enters…. When we investigate these problems, some fantastic things happen….”

— John H. Conway and N. J. A. Sloane, Sphere Packings, Lattices and Groups, preface to first edition (1988)

The remarkable Mathieu group M24, a group of permutations on 24 elements, may be studied by picturing its action on three interchangeable 8-element “octads,” as in the “Miracle Octad Generator” of R. T. Curtis.

A picture of the Miracle Octad Generator, with my comments, is available online.

 Cartoon by S.Harris

Related material:
Mathematics and Narrative.

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