Parker Glynn-Adey

UTM Math Club — The Diamond System

Posted in Math by pgadey on 2019/10/09


I gave a string workshop at the UTM Math Club. It was very experimental. I wanted to highlight the algorithmic aspect of string figures. We were going to do the first bit of inoli’s Diamonds System.

The plan was: distribute sting, teach Half-Second Star, teach Osage Two Diamonds, and then ask people to vary the figure in hopes of produce any number of diamonds other than two. The following issues arose: not everyone was able to form Osage Two Diamonds, and there were rather lost with the variation part. The game of small changes is hard to get started. Once I showed them a variation that produced Osage One Diamond, they were able to puzzle out n=3 and n=4 diamonds by experimentation.

The string that I distributed was not excellent quality. That made things even harder. Asking people to make their own loops, took a long time. Perhaps 15~20 minutes. It is probably wise to prepare a bunch of loops ahead of time. That seems like the best practice.

One neat thing happened during the talk. A young couple wandered in to Math Club to see what we were going. They were walking past, and noticed everyone playing with string and decided to come and check it out. As soon as they say down, they both started to play with the string. The girl asked the her boyfriend if she could show him a magic trick. She performed an excellent rendition of Loop Through Neck. Her patter was fine, and she even misdirected well with strong eye contact and did a couple moved to establish fairness and rhythm. It was lovely to watch. Don’t you just love seeing string “in the wild”?

The talk seemed more mathematical or algorithmic this time, despite me note introducing String Figure Calculus. I think that the presentation:

“Here is an algorithm. It outputs n=2. Vary it to get something other than two!”

works well for computational/mathematically minded audiences. It seems like a math problem. One angle, that I did not explore, but might be neat to explore in a future talk, is the formalization process:

“Here is an algorithm. How can we code it?”

One Math Club member started heading in that direction. He wanted to vary systematically.
After the talk, and exploration, I gave everyone a copy of inoli’s Diamonds System article.
They were left muttering “… conflated DNA looms???”

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