Marie C. Taris - Creativity

Recent News Notes: Math Art: Dances in the Sky (Mar2015), Math Art: Hamid Naderi Yeganeh (Feb2015), Math Art, Projection of a 4-Dimensional Regular Polytope (Jan2015), Math Art, Periodic Table of the Finite Elements (Nov2014).

In the capacity of Associate Editor-in-Chief of The Notices of the American Mathematical Society, I pored over manuscripts, red pen in hand, from January through Semptember of 2009. Of the many manuscripts The Notices received, 47 were picked for publication. They were published in The Notices in 2010, 2011, and 2012. I believe these feature articles will be enticing to a broad readership. Indeed, from the get-go, we wanted for The Notices to be an exciting read, not only for the seasoned research mathematician, but also for the graduate mathematics student, for the educator and, more inclusively, for all people interested in mathematics.

In that context, a series of articles on the topic of Mathematics, Creativity, and the Arts quickly came to my mind as one that would be accessible and of interest to many. Having discussed and edited 14 articles for the series, reading the reactions of referees and experts in mathematics and other fields, it was confirmed that the topic of Mathematics, Creativity, and the Arts is one that fascinates mathematicians and nonmathematicians alike; a good tiding for the project. As I had long been champing at the bit for an opportunity to pull together first-hand accounts within this frame, I was elated.

Creativity in mathematics and the arts is a topic I feel keenly motivated to explore. Indeed, I first brought up the subject to my mathematics professors in the early 1980s. At the time, research in the topic was hazy, if existent. In the 90s, mapping the human brain was described in pop science publications as THE new frontier. How to go about research on the subject of creativity was still anyone's playground. It was not until quite recently that technological advances and scientific progress in several fields (including medicine, biology, psychology, and sociology) have made it possible to consider a formal investigation of creativity, in modern terms.

Having personally studied music and mathematics, I discern a certain underlying architecture in moments of creativity and insight that I think to be common to both subjects. This experience while mysterious, inspiring, and at times transcendent is not uncommon. It has long been my hope that many accounts, from different perspectives, could shed light on this creative connection. It became the Notices series starting point.

The series includes articles on mathematics that is inspired by artistic expression, or that inspires artistic expression, or that includes some form of artistic expression. Also featured are articles on the creative, artistic, and transcendent nature of mathematics as it is perceived by the writer-mathematician. When appropriate, I encouraged authors to share their conclusions on the creative process. For this series, I was also compelled to stress that the mathematics and mathematicians must remain center-stage. Certainly, in any endeavors for The Notices, I strove to incorporate high level mathematical contents.

To read some of the articles in the series, visit the January 2010 issue of the Notices page. Due to unforeseen circumstances, the articles on Mathematics, Creativity, and the Arts had to be spread over the course of three years, without identification as to their thread—the January 2010 issue being the exception. I am incredibly grateful for all the mathematicians who worked with me, and I will eventually give each researcher a literary tilt-of-the-hat as I begin to write on the topic. This should help nonmathematicians interested in creativity to locate Notices articles that are relevant to their research.

If you find the Notices articles too mathematically challenging, try my recent preprint: Upon a Lady's Unbinding, M.Taris (January 11, 2013) or link to my recent news notes: and news notes: Seeking Insights_On Mathematics, RH, and Braque (January, 2013), On Undecidability and Millipedes_with Art by A.T. Fomenko (November, 2012), Portraits in C with Wegert_Wickerhauser_Weiss (October, 2012), Composing Microbial Bebop with Peter Larsen (October, 2012), Modeling for peace with Peter Turchin (May, 2012), Lopata Lamps Challenge Meets Bob Bosch (April, 2012) and also Art and the Mind Brain at the Kemper (March, 2012). These first appeared on the Mathematics Department at Washington University in St. Louis site.

If you would like to share your thoughts on the topic of Mathematics, Creativity, and the Arts, email TheGreenViolin