Mathematical Digest


Short Summaries of Articles about Mathematics
in the Popular Press

"The Kolam Tradition," by Marcia Ascher.AmericanScientist, January-February 2002, pp. 56-63.

A tradition among some women in southeastern India is to decorate thethresholds of their homes every morning with elaborate figures, called kolamfigures. This article describes the tradition, the symmetry and algorithmicnature of the figures, and the study of the figures by computer scientistsinterested in picture languages. The author, Marcia Ascher, is an expert inmathematics in other cultures.

--- Mike Breen