The University of Findlay will celebrate Mathematics Day on Thursday, March 21, with activities in the Alumni Memorial Union. Juggling and the Towers of Hanoi will be the topics of the day.
“The Mathematics of Juggling” will be discussed at 10 a.m. In the 1980s, several jugglers independently devised a method for representing juggling patterns using lists – called siteswaps – of whole numbers. Not all lists produce valid siteswaps, and participants will discuss how to distinguish the legal ones from the imposters. From a juggler’s perspective, the ability to quickly generate siteswaps is valuable for performance reasons; methods for doing this will be shared.
“Deconstructing the Towers of Hanoi” will be discussed at 1 p.m. The Towers of Hanoi is a 130-year-old puzzle purportedly invented by the mathematician Edouard Lucas. The brainteaser consists of a number of disks, all of different sizes, and three pegs on which the disks rest. The disks are stacked on a single peg according to size with the largest on the bottom. The solver is allowed to move one disk at a time from a peg to any other provided that a larger disk is never placed on a smaller one. The goal of the puzzle is to move the entire stack of disks to another peg, preferably with the fewest possible moves.
Participants will discuss how to solve the puzzle and will discover the formula for the minimum number of moves. There are some surprising connections between the puzzle and other areas of mathematics, including geometry and number theory.
For more information on Mathematics Day, contact Tracey Thacker, mathematics faculty administrative assistant, at firstname.lastname@example.org.