Math in the Media

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Mathematical Digest

Short Summaries of Articles about Mathematics
in the Popular Press

"Jugglers Now Juggle Numbers to Compute New Tricks for Ancient Art," by BillDonahue. Science Times, New York Times, April 16, 1996.

This article discusses "site swaps," a system of codifying the juggler's artsothat the tosses and catches can be represented by strings of numbers. Theideaof site swaps was invented in 1985 by Bruce Tiemann, a doctoral student inchemistry; two other jugglers independently came up with almost the same idea.A paper in the Mathematical Monthly by mathematician Joe Buhler of ReedCollegeand two colleagues shows how the system of site swaps can be used togenerate an infinite number of juggling patterns. Computer visualizationprograms have been developed that show small figures carrying out variousjuggling patterns based on site swaps. The article also describes the reactionof professional jugglers to the theory of site swaps and its usefulness injuggling performances.

-Allyn Jackson