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Leicester mathematician to unlock the journey of discovery

PhD student delves into the depths of mathematical tile patterns

Issued on 24 June 2009

Mathematics is all about discovery, not just equations, as school maths lessons may have led you to believe. PhD student, David Fletcher’s poster presentation will provide a whirlwind tour of the modern mathematics frontier, explaining the uses of mathematics in everyday life without a single equation. Instead, there will be easy to understand language and lots of pictures.

The first step on the journey begins with a household jigsaw puzzle, introducing the poster’s theme of tiles, think: your bathroom wall. Starting off with the question: If you were given some jigsaw pieces, can you figure out if they can be put together? Now, that’s not too hard.

But what if you were given as many copies of each jigsaw piece as you wanted, and were asked to tile a wall going on forever and in all directions? Then you would have a plane, which when covered with tiles in a non-repetitive pattern, forms tilings.

The research will include examples of tilings and discuss how they can help to solve modern computing problems in games like The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall or Spore. For example, Wang tiles are tiles with coloured edges often featured in computer games to generate textures covering a plane.

A common mathematical trick will be used to widen the concept of a 'tile', exploring the idea that crystals in nature can also be categorised as tilings. The shadow of a 5-dimensional crystal will be postulated as the perfect tile pattern.

A brief summary of Fletcher’s PhD will conclude the presentation, introducing the more salient ideas of his research.

David Fletcher will be presenting his research at the Festival of Postgraduate Research which is taking place on Thursday 25th June in the Belvoir Suite, Charles Wilson Building, The University of Leicester between 11.30am and 1pm. This event is open to the public and is FREE to attend.

For more information contact David Fletcher df67@le.ac.uk

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