Thursday, October 09, 2008


I plan on writing a more substantial post later from home (I'm getting off campus early today, it's been a long last few weeks!), but I wanted to check in with the latest (G,φ)-gram, this one based on the homomorphism φ from the alphabet {A,...,Z} to the group (Z,+) of integers under addition, defined by letting φ(x)=1 if x is a vowel and -1 if x is a consonant.

This poem takes the value 0 under φ, as does its title:

A balance

O, Beauty, abound! O, Beauty, prevail!
O, Consonant, Vowel, be laid on the scale!

I'm not entirely happy with this poem, as it's a bit stilted. I admit that I wrote it largely in order to illustrate the methods of group theoretic poetics. (I'll be giving a talk on this stuff in our department's Senior Seminar next week, and I'd like to come up with a few more examples before then!) The fundamental difficulty in constructing this couplet is the prevalence of consonants in English, and I suspect writing such a balanced poem in Spanish, French, Italian, or Portuguese would be considerably easier. I believe I'll give it a try in the next few days.

Coming up in tonight's post: how are the Abstract Algebra students' committee presentations going? How are the Precalckers liking mathematical poetry, and how are they handling functions?


Kaz Maslanka said...

Hi Doc,
I was wondering what group theoretic poetics was??


DocTurtle said...


The most succinct answer I can give you is a link to a recent post where I provided links to all of my recent posts on group theory and poetry!

Here you go, and let me know if you have any more questions after perusing the links therein (I'd be happy to discuss it further): Links to poetry-related posts