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Mathematical Models of the Visual Kind

In contrast to last week's suggestion, it is necessary to suggest a more normal web site for you as mathematics teachers to ponder over throughout the summer.

The website on Mathematical Models has several aspects:

  • Review the history of creating models to illustrate mathematical and scientific phenomena (including a "Who's Who" relative to the creation of models)
  • Share reference sources and research regarding the construction and use of such mathematical models
  • Provide links to other web sites that discuss the creation and use of mathematical models
  • Overview the connections between mathematical models and modern art
Though all of the aspects of offered by this web site are interesting, I found the last section on connections of mathematical models to art a real winner. Overall, the web site provides information to both reflect on and to investigate further, such as the work of Naum Gabo, Antoine Pevsner, Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, and Man Ray.

Left to Right: Barbara Hepworth's Sculpture with Colour (Deep Blue and Red) and Kuen's Surface

Finally, this web site should prompt you to wonder why discussions of mathematical models have been relegated to historical artifacts or as objects of art. What happened to their teaching purposes? Perhaps the answer lies in our easy access to computer software such as Mathematica, which allows students and teachers to not only build and manipulate mathematical models...but also change them dynamically. This is not something the old-time static models could do.