December 7, 2012 – March 8, 2013
Walter Library, Great Hall (2nd Floor)


About the exhibit

The word symmetry may evoke bilateral symmetry, as in an idealized human face or the two wings of a butterfly. For mathematicians, the concept is richer, ranging from the patterns of wallpaper to the symmetries of a molecule or crystal.

Indeed, the concept of symmetry is central to students' first experiences in the field of abstract algebra, where symmetry is used to illustrate the idea of a group. For mathematicians, group is a technical notion that may be best approached through examples, like the ones offered here.

The images in this exhibition offer a way to learn more about symmetry and the group concept. Of course, some visitors will prefer simply to look and enjoy a workout of the visual cortex.

About the artists

Frank A. Farris is a 2012 visiting professor at the University of Minnesota. He is an associate professor in the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science at Santa Clara University. He edited Mathematics Magazine from 2001 through 2005, and again in 2009. He remains active in the Mathematical Association of America and is currently chair of the organization's Council on Publications and Communications. In 2011, Farris was a visiting professor at Carleton College where this exhibit originated.

Saewon Eum will graduate from Carleton College in 2013. As an independent study project, she continued the work she began in Farris' geometry course in 2011 to produce a portfolio of images, some of which are included in the "Seeing Symmetry" exhibit.

The School of Mathematics and the Institute for Mathematics and its Applications in cooperation with the University Libraries are sponsors of this exhibit.