Sunday, July 18, 2010

On the mathematics of juggling: teaching an old dog new tricks

Mathematicians have developed notations for juggling, including something called Site-Swap Notation. It turns out that a formal language has helped discover tricks that had eluded jugglers for thousands of years.

In his book Alex's Adventures in Numberland, Alex Bellos quotes Colin Wright.

"Once you have a language to talk about a problem, it aids your thought process. Maths is not sums, calculations and formulae. It is pulling things apart to understand how things work."

Casual readers of Alex's piece might get the impression that Colin Wright was the chief creator of sideswap theory, but Colin himself disavowed this on a juggling newsgroup in December 2008, and provided a brief sketch of sideswap history.

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