Nexus 2002 roundtable panelists, from left to right: Jean Brangé,
Stephen Wassell, Maurizio
Vianello, Moderator Judith
Flagg Moran, Arsélio
Martins, Mario Krüger,
Kim Williams
(standing)
- Is mathematics a necessary part of the education of an architect?
- What effect does the increasing use of computers have on the mathematics that an architect needs to know?
- What kind of skills are required at the secondary level to prepare students adequately to prepare students to do architectural work at university?
- The fourth question, What role can architecture play in mathematics education?
The fourth question, What role can architecture play in mathematics
education?, we have actually sort of shelved that as maybe not
a fertile, although I think that Steve Wassell is going to address
that a tiny bit. And one other question suddenly seemed very
paramount, and that was the assumption that we knew what we meant
when we said "mathematics" and that's what I would
like to talk about a little bit and then the panelists will each
take about 5 or 6 minutes to talk about address one specific
area of those questions. We'll have a little conversation among
ourselves and then jump in with both feet and have a bigger conversation.
I am not only not an architect, Trinity College has no architecture
program, I'm not involved in the education of architects, but
I've been listening real hard for two days and what I have heard,
I really enjoyed Lionel [March]'s paper so much of course, as
a mathematician, but what I'm hearing is lots of mathematics
involved but not so much what we have traditionally have thought
of, or what I have come to the meeting thinking of, proportion,
although that's certainly still very important, in lots of papers
we talked about that; geometry (I am a geometer, by the way,
I work in filling space, tiling, so I guess that's my tie to
this group); calculus; number and relationships of number, and
we've heard papers, some very wonderful paper, addressing those
ideas, but we've also heard of branches of mathematics that we
might not have thought of: graph theory, because that's the branch
of mathematics that describes connections, so if you want to
know how to connect all the parts of your building, graph theory
can be very useful in modeling. Combinatorics, which Lionel used
to enumerate all the possibilities of solutions; group theory,
to distinguish the different kinds of configurations, that could
be very useful; topology, a fairly new branch of mathematics,
only about a century old, which talks about distorting spaces
while maintaining their connections, and with some of the more
unusual spaces we're seeing in architecture now topology is also
a good language to describe some of what we are seeing and maybe
a good tool with which to conceptualize which is what I think
a lot of this mathematics can serve. Also, I don't want to leave
anything out because my colleagues reinforced this for me. We
heard of the importance of logic, to several people in their
discussions. We talked about shape grammars and I know Andrew
I-Kang Li talked about shape grammars and he also gave mathematics
a very lovely compliment when he said he wanted to think mathematically
and then he clarified that and said he wants to clarify precisely
what he means. I think mathematics (of course I am a mathematics)
but I think mathematics is very, very good at that. When we are
talking about mathematics I'd like you to try to keep your mind
open to all of those areas which you may not have thought of
instantly as mathematics and I forgot one, which actually Jean
[Brangé] and I were talking about, because he was talking
about using a lot of data as input because he is going to talk
about using the Internet and the new ways we think as a result
of that and I said, "If you are going to deal with a lot
of data what about statistics and data analysis have to do with
that?" and he said, "A great deal." So there is
yet another math topic.
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