Patterns

October 26, 2004

If issues of SIAM News can be said to have themes, this one has two: impressive achievements of SIAM students and pattern formation. Readers who heard Alan Newell's John von Neumann lecture in Portland this summer will remember striking images of patterns in plants, along with a discussion of the mathematics underlying their formation. For those who missed the talk, highlights can be found in Plant Patterns and Phyllotaxis. Philip Davis continues the discussion with a review of a book by John A. Adam of Old Dominion University, a collection of mathematical models of various patterns arising in nature, accompanied by spectacular photos of the phenomena. As to the photo shown here, it's from SIAM president Mac Hyman's "pattern file," a subset of his photos that document not only a uniquely appealing way of seeing natural phenomena but also math meetings he's attended all over the world. The swan shown here caught his eye during a lunchtime walk at ICIAM 03 in Sydney, and he agreed to a request from SIAM News to have it serve as an introduction to the "pattern issue."


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