Relearning my love for Math

Adventures in "Continuing Education"

So I signed up for a 5 week class on Mathematics at the School for Poetic Computation called Learning to Love Mathematics: History, Theory, Practice, Poetics. The course description:

In this workshop, participants will study both history of math -- including some connections to computing, ecology, politics, religion, and literature -- and practices of learning/using/creating math. Topics certain for at least brief discussion with everyone include a whirlwind survey of mathematics in a few pre-colonial societies and in the contemporary field, varieties of infinity, math education, logic, cultural and linguistic specificity of mathematics, category theory, and the physical realization of abstract computational models. Possible topics for discussion with everyone or in smaller groups according to participant interest include greater elaboration of the previously named topics, and other branches of mathematics or closely linked fields such as probability theory, programming language theory, computational complexity theory, information theory, music theory, graph/network theory, order theory, Ramsey theory, approximation theory, geometry, and fractals. There will be no assumption of mathematics knowledge more advanced than a vague recollection of middle/high school algebra, nor unrealistic expectations of building expertise in little more than a month's time; the intention for the short course is to build interest in and appreciation for a diverse and beautiful subject too often uglified by elitism, prejudice, and excessive rigidity.

Why?

As you probably guessed, to make better Graphics.

I recently read Music by the Numbers: From Pythagoras to Schoenberg by Eli Maor. The book covers the way different researchers and mathematician have used Math and Music concepts interchangeably in their studies. Studying and applying different interdisciplinary concepts is sort of a cheat code in that way. You get to leverage huge mountains of existing research and stand on the shoulders of giants. Math is critical to my artistic practice and by revisiting concepts and strengthening this skill I will grow as an artist.

No really, why?

I love math. As a kid my mom used to call me a "human calculator" because I was really good at arithmetic (+, -, x, ÷) and would answer with ease any question she had from calculating how much an item on sale cost to scaling measurements in the kitchen. Math is fun to me because Math is practical but, once we moved into more theoretical realms, I quickly begin to lose interest in the entire field of study.

The end of the course summary says:

… the intention for the short course is to build interest in and appreciation for a diverse and beautiful subject too often uglified by elitism, prejudice, and excessive rigidity.

I think what turned me away from higher levels of Math was its rigidity. If adding and subtracting allowed me to create little shortcuts and different ways of playing with numbers, then Calculus felt too much like trying to force my brain into someone else’s thinking. My hope with this course is to regain my appreciation for math by learning new building blocks and techniques for using them. Hopefully numbers will begin to feel playful again.

2nd set of July Patron Postcards

The 2nd set of July Postcards are in the mail for Patrons. Watch this space cause I’ve been thinking a lot about Patreon and Postcards and I think next week’s email is going to tackle this.

goodgraphics.js@0.14.0

goodgraphics.js is the coding library that all of the Graphics are made with. It’s my personal tool and eventually I’ll write a post about why it exists. But, for our purposes a new version was released. Adds a few helper functions that I’ve been using in the Good Graphics Monorepo Codebase that I want the library to natively support now.

One last thing.

Turns out that y’all really liked that post from two weeks ago: a graphics only post. Should I do more of them? It could be a midweek Bi-Weekly surprise or something. I think I struggle with adding too much structure to this newsletter/blog. I think there’s a certain je ne sais quoi to the unhinged-ness. Idk. Just thinking out loud.

-Mathy Mello

P.S. - Mathematical Proofs. The only “high-level” Math concept that I love. There are so many logical parallels between Proofs and Computer Programming. It’s like mini-world building

P.P.S. - Sin Wave Snake is my favorite Mathematical Based Graphic