Joint Mathematics Meetings 2020, Denver, Colorado

Being an exhibitor at the Joint Mathematics Meetings gives one a unique perspective on the event. People stop by our booth to chat, sometimes about math, or family, or just to catch up. The richness and breadth of topics discussed and connections made never ceases to surprise me. Neither does the range of ages of people who stop by to enjoy Geometiles– this year it ranged from 1 to 81– years old. Someone invariably makes a structure I’ve never seen before. For example, check out this hat by an undergrad from Carleton College:

Check out the detail on the hat inset. I certainly didn’t have this in mind when I designed Geometiles… vive la difference!

The spirit of the conference was very inclusive, and, as a result, the span of new ideas I got was as diverse as the group of conference attendees. There were mathematical artists, journalists, kindergarteners, professional game designers, babies, child prodigies, college students, and, of course, math professors. I’m glad I brought a large notebook with me to the conference because I could not have remembered the suggestions about new directions with Geometiles, new books on flexagons, new audiences for recreational mathematics and how to reach them. Some people had comments about Bjoern Muetzel’s and my joint artwork at the Mathematical Art Exhibit at the other end of the hall, and that was very gratifying.

At the end of each day, as I exited the convention center, I was greeted by the famous Big Blue Bear peering into the window of the building. A composite structure made of many plastic polygons, the Bear was a perfect embodiment of the interdisciplinary spirit of the JMM.

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