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Concinnitas – The Beauty of Mathematical Formulas

Public Exhibition in Foyer of University Library, Freie Universität Berlin / Presentation of the Exhibition on May 31, 2017

№ 136/2017 from May 26, 2017

What is "beautiful" mathematics? An exhibition entitled "Concinnitas," on display through June 29, 2017, in the foyer of the University Library of Freie Universität, provides some answers. The exhibition shows ten aquatint etchings by the artist Bob Feldman, who asked significant contemporary mathematicians and physicists for the most beautiful mathematical formulas. Feldman then created etchings based on these formulas. On May 31, 2017, there will be an introduction to the theme of the exhibition. Attendance for both is free of charge.

In addition, books from the collections of the libraries of Freie Universität that deal with mathematics and aesthetics will be shown. They include a copy of De re aedificatoria from 1574 by the Italian humanist, writer, and mathematician Leon Battista Alberti that belongs to the library of the Art History Institute.

The exhibition was created by art publisher Bob Feldman of Parasol Press in collaboration with the Yale University Art Gallery and Daniel Rockmore, a mathematician at Dartmouth College. "Mathematical formulas provide insights into different concepts of beauty," says Feldman. The selections made by the scientists and mathematicians, who Rockmore says "are among the great mathematical scientists of our age" (they include two Nobel Laureates and five Field Medalists), touch on a variety of aspects ranging from simplicity to elegance to universality. The title of the exhibition, the rhetorical concept concinnitas, was used by Cicero to denote "the harmonic, rhythmic connection of the words among other thoughts." Leon Battista Alberti (1404-1472) used concinnitas in his work on architecture (De re aedificatoria) in the sense of "harmony in number, relationship, and arrangement of the individual parts of a building."

At the presentation of the exhibition on May 31, the director of the University Library, Jiří Kende, will give a welcome address. Constance Aehlig from the Bernard Jacobson Gallery London and Professor Günter M. Ziegler from the Institute of Mathematics, Freie Universität, will give introductions to the subject.

Further Information

Time and Location

  • Presentation of the exhibition: Wednesday, May 31, 2017, 6 p.m., Foyer of the University Library, Freie Universität Berlin, Gary Str. 39, 14195 Berlin
  • Exhibition: through Friday, June 29, 2017, Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., Foyer of the University Library, Gary Str. 39, 14195 Berlin