Past and Present in Mathematical Weaving

10:00 - 18:00 Uhr
Veranstaltet von
Michael Friedman (HU Berlin)

Weaving, braiding and plaiting can be counted as one of the oldest cultural techniques belonging to human culture, much older than agriculture or writing. While an obvious connection between weaving and mathematics – or more precisely, computer sciences–arises during the 19th century, with the Jacquard loom and Charles Babbage’s reference to it, only in 1926 a comprehensive mathematical theory of braids first appeared. But does this mean that weaving techniques and practices were not considered mathematically before the 19th century, or were not considered as being able to prompt and deliver, explicitly or implicitly, any mathematical knowledge?

While the historical research, starting already from ancient Greece, shows an abundance of approaches towards the mathematics of weaving and braiding, contemporary research points that this interweaving between the two domains is still far from being completely understood. How did (and do) weaving practices and artisanal knowledge of weaving led to the rise of arithmetical and geometrical thinking during the centuries? How ethnomathematics and new design techniques can help us uncover implicitly mathematical structures within woven and string figures? How does the novel geometry of three-dimensional periodic entanglements, developed only in the recent years, give rise to new mathematical domains? And how can wrinkled and buckled textiles be mathematically modeled, and which function does this model have?

The conference aims to address these questions, to show that there is an intricate and complicated relationship between mathematics and weaving and woven textiles, braiding or string figures, starting already in Antiquity and going on till today. It will take not only antiquity into consideration, but also the novel approaches of the twenty-first century to mathematics of weaving, in order to not only shed new light on ancient traditions, but also to inquire about the emergence of new epistemic techniques in mathematics.


Registration is necessary. Please register by sending an email to Michael Friedman.