Mathematics: Muse, Maker, and Measure of the Arts (11w5070)

Arriving in Banff, Alberta Sunday, December 4 and departing Friday December 9, 2011


(Duke University)

(University of Colorado at Boulder)

(University of Victoria)

(Dartmouth College)

(Michigan State University)


The Banff International Research Station will host the "Mathematics: Muse, Maker, and Measure of the Arts (*HALF)" workshop from December 4th to December 9th, 2011.

Mathematics and arts have a history of interaction for as long as civilization itself. Tiling since the early civilizations combine both artistic beauty and mathematical complexity. The ancient Egyptians and ancient Greeks knew about the golden ratio, regarded as an aesthetically pleasing ratio, and incorporated it into the design of monuments including the Great Pyramid, the Parthenon, the Colosseum. There are many examples of artists who have been inspired by mathematics and studied mathematics as a means of complementing their works. Some of the notables include the Greek sculptor Polykleitos, Renaissance artists such as Piero della Francesca and Leonardo Davinci, and more recent artists such as Picasso, Dali and Escher. Many artistic movement such as minimalist and abstract art had their roots in mathematics. Conversely, art such as tiling had contributed to the discovery of Penrose tiles and the study of aperiodic structures such quasicrystals, one of the most important areas in mathematics.

Today the study of geometry and advent of digital age have sown the seeds for a revolution in the arts. The processing power of modern computers allows mathematicians and non-mathematicians to visualize complex and often visually stunning mathematical objects such as the Mandelbrot set and other fractal sets. The study of dynamical systems, information theory and other areas of mathematics has openned up the field of generative arts as well as other mathematical aided art making such as origami. Stylometry analysis now employs sophisticated mathematical and statistical techniques to determine the authenticity of art. Increasingly, advanced techniques in differential equations and optimization are being used to enhance and restore old work of art.

The goal of the workshop is to bring together mathematicians and people in the art communities who are otherwise less likely to interact due to the distances in their respective fields of expertise. Only by regularly interacting with the art community can mathematics find its vitality in and become an important and lasting component of the study of arts.

The Banff International Research Station for Mathematical Innovation and Discovery (BIRS) is a collaborative Canada-US-Mexico venture that provides an environment for creative interaction as well as the exchange of ideas, knowledge, and methods within the Mathematical Sciences, with related disciplines and with industry. The research station is located at The Banff Centre in Alberta and is supported by Canada's Natural Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), Alberta's Advanced Education and Technology, and Mexico's Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología (CONACYT).