Kolams and Mathematical Thinking

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Kolams and Mathematical Thinking
CCNY Association for Women in Mathematics presents:
Kolams and Mathematical Thinking
Sunita Vatuk
Weds, Dec 2, 12:30-1:30, Shepard Hall, Room 1
It is notoriously hard to give a satisfactory answer to the question, “What is mathematics?”
– Timothy Gowers
Dr. Vatuk will give a talk on designs made by women in south India that she first came
across while in residence at the Chennai Mathematical Insistute. Later, as a Fulbright
scholar, she interviewed over 80 kolam experts and learned hundreds of designs. Most of
these women were not formally educated, and kolam is certainly not part of the body of
knowledge of academic research mathematics, but the expert kolam-maker and the
mathematician do share many patterns of thought. The range of mathematical connections
found in kolams make it a particularly rich arena in which to explore that elusive definition
of mathematics, by focusing on mathematical
thinking
outside
of academia.
A more
realistic
(yet still
made-up)
example of the modular strategy:

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