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The Symmetries of Things by John H.

Conway; Heidi Burgiel; Chaim Goodman-Strauss Review by: Branko Grnbaum The American Mathematical Monthly, Vol. 116, No. 6 (Jun. - Jul., 2009), pp. 555-562 Published by: Mathematical Association of America Stable URL: . Accessed: 24/08/2013 03:59
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Mathematics and Computer Science,Ohio Wesleyan Delaware, OH 43015 University,

EditedbyJeffrey Nunemacher

H. Conway, HeidiBurgiel, andChaimGoodman-Strauss. TheSymmetries ofThings. By John A K Peters, ISBN-10: MA, 2008,xviii+ 426 pp.,ISBN-13: 978-1-56881-220-5, Wellesley, $69. 1-56881-220-5,

Reviewed byBranko Grnbaum

so itseemsappropriate has many different to discuss The word"symmetry" meanings, In on The is before thenotion Symmetries ofThings. myview,anysymmetry reporting in a of and vice such orsystematic an orderly versa, disposition parts whole, any dispo- leadingto very or system can be ofmany kinds The orderliness is a symmetry. sition Some of theearliestcultural artifacts and developments. exhibit situations different as The ancient have been long presented beingunsurpassed Egyptians symmetries. in ornamentation, cultures own contributother have had their masters of symmetry Islamicornaments, whichare one maymention thewell-known As examples, butions. or the of decorations textiles of influence, stunning totally independent anyEgyptian In 1 we show in Peruvians. a schematic the madebypre-conquest Figure way patterns andrefancient Peruvian as explained, oftwoofthestillpreserved fabrics; illustrated, show a greatcreativity in combining erencedin detailin [5], manyof thesetextiles butattractive (ThejournalSymmeorderly very patterns. shapesandcolorstogenerate VCH after a singleissue.The paper the was discontinued Publishers, by publisher, try to Heinrich as [7], butwithout thededication Heesch,and withno [5] was reprinted colorillustrations.)

A A A A A A A A /" A A A A A /" A /" A /" A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A

A A V V A A V A A V V A A V A/^vvaav A A V V A A V AAVVAAV A A v v A A v AAVVAAV

oftwoPeruvian see [6, page 46] or [7, page 23]. The first contextiles; Figure 1. Schematic representations in each translational fundamental thesecondeight tains twocopiesofthemotif region, copies.

side of symmetry was veryslow to develop.While we tendto The mathematical and tessellations as themostsymmetric obthink of theregular polyhedra, polygons, - eversince kinds,one has to bear in mindthattheywere singledout jects of their - byvarious local properties. Thisincluded therequirement EuclidandArchimedes of 2009] June-July reviews 555

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of regular and therequirements (of the polygons equal sides and anglesforpolygons, for orsimilar samekind)as facesandcongruent vertices, regular polyherequirements, did mathof grouptheory, withthedevelopment dra.Onlyin thenineteenth century, be these of that the the ematicians may explained objects symmetry insight develop of isometric under from as a global attribute, self-maps. groups transitivity resulting various levels ofobjectswith to theunderstanding contributed greatly Crystallography and whichled to isohedral setsof points), or discrete of symmetry (suchas polyhedra, and Coxeter of and to other to isogonalpolyhedra, objects. symmetric types particular was expanded and theresearch to theseinvestigations, madegreat contributions others declared Klein's "Erlanger kindsof spaces and objects.Earlier, intoother program" invariant undersome groupactingon a is thestudy of properties that each geometry in on geometry influence had a positive thisprogram is no doubtthat set.Whilethere of the it with was the that came ornaments, is) (and polystudy stifling general, spirit have mucheasierto investigate and similar hedra, objectsthat objects.It is obviously of the than to on their elements a groupof isometries study objects transitively acting do notadmitsuchisometries. samekindthat and a clearexample.Regularpolyhedra, The case of polyhedra polytopes, presents and of from studied for have been related view, generalizations every point ages objects But it tooklinearprogramming a lot of attention. to attract to otherspaces continue to polyhedra attention to and other (and 1950) (around bring techniques optimization or with not endowed regularity. symmetry any particular polytopes) necessarily a similarsituation. In the studyof tilings of the plane we encounter Tilingsthat have been intenhave vertices (or edges, or tiles) in a singleorbitunderisometries and detailedaccountsof theresults are extensive and there obtained; sivelystudied, to isohedral from eventheslight forexample, see [9]. However, tilings generalization leads to a wealth ones (thatis, tilingssuch thatall tiles are congruent) monohedral efforts. whichare stillopen despitelong and intensive of simpleproblems, Among are monohedral themis thequestionof whatpentagons tilers, open even forconvex of tilesin monohedral concerns thepossiblesymmetries Another question pentagons. can be a tilethat Is there rotational five-fold can each tile have, symmetry? say, tilings: witheach of the 17 symmetry monohedral used to construct groups? tilings In Figure 2 we show schematicdrawingsof tilingsdiscoveredby PeterRaedin thestyle thetilesare zoomorphic, works schelders. In severalof theartist's original in sucha way thetilesare arranged withno individual of Escher, However, symmetry.

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of P. Raedschelders of some of thezoomorphic (from[13] and tilings Figure 2. Schematic representation communications). private



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translational has 64 tiles,and thearrangement thata minimal has regionof thetiling theparticular that each row and each column of 8 8 contains property any by patch - hencerepresents tilesof all eightaspects(translationally an inequivalent positions) in a similarmanner 8 by 8 Latin square.WhichLatin squares are representable possiblyusingmorethanone basic tile,or usingcolorsto distinguish amongtilesof andmany others have still thesameaspect?Thisquestion, to find (see [5]), appropriate answers. is devoted to symmetry oftilings Muchof TheSymmetries (of the ofThings groups While this and of other is from a mathematiquiteinteresting spaces). purely plane fortheapplicability to ornaments cal pointof view,it is a severerestriction and other is somewhat to "things" by symmetry groups analogous classifytopics.Classifying of their ing animalsby thenumber legs (0, 2, 4, 6, 8, 100, 1000,.. . ?). In bothcases is conveyed, butusuallynotenoughinformation comes through some information to Fromancient to modern from to be reallyuseful. quiltmakers, Egypt crystallography are that trivialized there are art, dispositions symmetriessystematic by describing of groups of symmetry. in terms them considerations aboutsymmetry, itis timeto discussthe theabove general Granting That'swhatwe shalldo in therestofthisreview. Thereis a lot book on itsownterms. but serious also some to be enthusiastic about, shortcomings. The first is entitled ofFiniteObThe book is dividedintothree parts. "Symmetries it and an introduction to the of and Plane Patterns," gives symmetries Repeating jects the and much more. One of the central is to the thefigures notation, considered, points thevarious ofsymbols, calledsignatures, that introduction directly symmetries express in thispart is quiteleisurely ofa pattern. The presentation and andthesymmetry group oftheConwaysignatures. The assigning achievesa wholelotbesidestheintroduction ofthesignature enablesone to easilyenumerate theposof "costs"to thecomponents the which is shown sible groupsof symmetry "Magic Theorem," eventually by using of The symmetry to Euler'stheorem. to be equivalent friezes, groups rosettes, wallpaThis partof thebook concludes on thesphereare all determined. pers,and patterns whichare used,together withappropriate to "orbifolds," withan introduction signaof the In this is a excellent the book. all, tures, pedagogically presentation throughout I introduction to orbifolds have seen. One can that it it is the best material; onlyhope and theorbifold theuse of thesignatures tools.The will attain thegoal of spreading thegroupsfordifferent and theanalogy ease withwhichone enumerates manifolds, in a really for here of symmetry are thecollections between presented groups these, valuableway. thereare self-inflicted Nevertheless, injuriesto the authors'aims. The typeof or glides by everybody else is herecalled "miracalled glide-reflections isometries theauthors use "wonder." Do they of "translation" cles" (page 24), and instead really are said to terms will be The that these cute accepted? generally signatures expect from MacBeath's mathematical have been developedrecently "Murray languagefor and that's all we MacBeath and the of getconcerning origins discussing symmetry" 1 his that on 19 name is as thesignatures (except page given McBeath). For example: In somecases poorwording causes problems. On page 31, glides ("miracles")are supposedto be foundif "you can walk from to a copyofitself without evertouching a mirror line."Butwhathappens somepoint lines? ifthere areno mirror On is it accidental or intentional that theorderof listing pages 38-39 (and others), of theillustrations? It can confuse the setsoftypesdoes notcoincidewiththeorder beginner. 2009] June-July reviews 557

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On thegroup denoted hereby *532 "is generated page 57 we readthat byreflections in a triangle of angles n/5, n/3, n/2, and a spherical with this pattern symmetry existsbecause thereis a spherical withtheseangles."Whatabout angles triangle ? Thereis a spherical withtheseangles. 7T/5.01, 7T/3.02, 7T/2.05 triangle Thereis no indication that with discrete anywhere onlypatterns symmetry groupare considered. Like manyother theauthors leave thereaderwondering: What writers, is thesignature of a circle,or a circular line or a family of disk,or of one straight are to be appliedto thestudy of ornaments, thisis a parallellines?If thesignatures that could be eliminated witha fewwords. big drawback - in all ofthefirst - ofanyother Even moreseriousis theomission workabout part of the patterns discussed.How is a student symmetries supposedto get acquainted withtherelevant literature neededforanyseriousstudy? It is onlyon page 119 in the "Introduction to PartII" that we are toldthat thetablesin theAppendix contain "dictionaries" betweensignatures and theothersystems used in theliterature. However, evenhereonlytwosourcesare specified, and theothers to bynameof an onlyreferred - withno references. author The secondpartof thebook deals mainly withcolorsymmetry after introgroups, theconnections betweensignatures and generators of the ducingmaterial regarding It also coversseveralaspectsofclassification of tilings of theplane symmetry groups. and thesphere. The symmetry in theplaneare classified groupsof 2-colored patterns 46 types.Thereis no indication thattheauthors are awareof givingthewell-known determination of thisclassification, whichin factgoes backto the1930s. anyprevious The groupsof 3-colored are enumerated in a separate and another patterns chapter, coverstheonlyslightly morecomplicated enumeration of /7-color for chapter patterns of primep. On page 120 (as well as in the Preface)it is claimedthatenumeration is carried outforthefirst timein thisbook.Again,thisis not /7-color symmetry groups thecase, as thegroupsof -coloredpatterns havebeen determined in [8] forn = 3 in andSchwarzenberger n < 15,byWieting 1979,byJarratt [11] in 1979for [18] in 1982 for n < 60, and formany Senechal's (butnotall) n bySenechal[15] in 1979; however, results coverall prime n. The disregard of theexisting in an error in literature results theenumeration forboththreefold and primefold In bothcases, one group colorings. is missed.On page 156, theentry for22* = pmg in Table 12.1 assertsthattheonly forthisgroupis 22*//** = pmg[3]2(in thenotation of [9]); however, this 3-coloring is wrong. Thereis also the3-coloring 22*//o = pmg[3]i; see Figure3. The analogous error is repeated forp-colorings in Table 13.1 on page 164.

= pmg[3] 22*//o j

22*//**= pmg[3]2

ofa pattern with 22* = pmg. Figure3. The twodistinct 3-colorings symmetry group



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inthis other butone is serious tobe explicitly Thereareseveral glitches part, enough be "There of mentioned. On page 188 theauthors say: may symmetries thetileitself do extend, to thetiling." This is wrong: buttheextended do notextend that they symof the tile itself. would forceadditional metries symmetries Although theysay "We . . ," it is neither statednor is it clear how thisis indicated. indicatethispossibility,. can be bestunderstood betweentiles(endowedwith The situation by distinguishing an and marked tiles imbedded subsetas a mark);thisis a specific (thatcarry shape), in detailin Section6.2 of [9]. described of enumeration of isohedral I foundtheexplanations of theplane typesof tilings the results to and On the one there is no hard follow, hand, incomplete. (Chapter15) marked since of thefactthatsome of thetilings tiles indication requirespecifically hand,thelist of shape. On theother theycannotbe realizedby tilesof appropriate = 2*22 cmm misses one and has a for isohedral (page 195) type wrong drawing types isohedral foranother types.Here too comparison type.I cannotvouchfortheother wouldhaveprevented theerrors. with easilyaccessibleliterature in Patterns Other deals with The third "Repeating Spaces." It is farlonger part state(page 217): "We expectthatPartIII will thantheearliertwo,and the authors mathematicians." The first understood 80 or be completely onlyby a fewprofessional Archimedean and so pages ofthispartdeal withhyperbolic groups, tilings polyhedra, of thecrystallographic of 3-space.The restis devotedto an enumeration and tilings and pseudo-Platonic Archimedean These in 3-space,and to infinite polyhedra. groups The of the authors to be a say (page 336) just sampling possibilities. appear polyhedra No explanations or referon whichwe shallnotelaborate." are somesubtleties "there ences are given. understand thethird I have to admitthatI am notamongthefewthatcompletely I am with. It seems to me on the I will comment Hence chapters acquainted only part. to cover too much material "Archimedean thatChapter19 entitled Tilings"attempts While this and too few illustrations. in too littlespace, withtoo short explanations to be some intrinsic contradictions there seem own be due to shortcomings, my may The discussion is meant to applyto theEuclideanandhyperbolic errors. andprobable definition as the The as to as well working requires regular polygons sphere. planes of the tiling.The train a singleorbitundersymmetries faces (tiles),and vertices thatall thesymmetries are termed Archimedean ditional "absolute," meaning tilings H of the symmetry In addition, if a subgroup of thetilingare considered. groupG is said to be Archimedean relative to thenthetiling on thevertices, acts transitively of all Archimedean H . The authors state(page 251): "The completeclassification timein thisbook." On page and absolute,appearsforthe first bothrelative tilings, of theEuclideanplane relative Archimedean 250 are shown"The thirty-five tilings are for the shown(some While no additional tilings explanations given, by squares." the of the some havecoloredtiles,somehavemarkings decreasing symmetry squares, in each case is meantto preserve themarkhave both)it is clear thatthe subgroup I would prefer on thevertices. colorswhileactingtransitively Although ings and/or are determined colors alone be from the that that therelative by distinguished tilings I realizethat in thealgebraic-topological thisis notinherent ones that needmarkings, a comparison of thetilings shownon page 250 thetilings. However, way of deriving of in of 2.9.2 shows thatat least three withtheuniform [9] colorings tilings Figure on But even more is Table 19.1 (on are 250. "relative" confusing tilings missing page and "The Archimedean tessellations. The and polyhedra spherical pages 262-263): are shown. Each absolute is shown The relaEuclideanArchimedean tilings tiling article wouldseemto imply that . . ." The use of thedefinite are lightened. tivetilings this not case. the four of but is the Of relative are all relative tilings tilings shown, 2009] June-July reviews 559

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shownon page 250 by colors,onlytwoappearin Table 19.1. Several thesquaretiling of as are a relative are missing, of relative tiling tiling by triangles tilings theregular and the of one of relative (63). ( tilings and innovais veryinteresting Schiaffi "Generalized The nextchapter, Symbols," based on earlierrelatedworkby AndreasDress (no reference tive,although given). of theadjacenciesof thecells in is thegraphical representation Especiallyattractive The applications ortiling. of a givenpolygon, subdivision thebarycentric polyhedron, into and of include classifications by typesdetermined octagons hexagons provided and icosaheof the octahedral lattices of and the their subgroups symmetry properties, dralsymmetry groups. These andplanetilings. andCatalanpolyhedra Archimedean 21 deals with Chapter of new names from theusual,butwitha plethora in a manner different are presented and termsthatmay discouragesome readers.It also containsa list of 13 vertexwell known It is reasonably of 3-spaceby Archimedean transitive polyhedra. tilings there are 28 types that various in with later corrections authors) 1905, [1] (Andreini by ones are thosewhose symstate:"The mostinteresting The authors of such tilings. 22, and we shall restrict groupis one of the 'prime'space groupsof Chapter metry that butitis regrettable be correct In somesensetheauthors ourselves to these." may to would be sufficient sentence that short a did not add here explainthe single they forthese and illustrations the other On the term hand, provided descriptions "prime." are thebestI haveeverseen. 13 tilings 22 theauthors cryssay ". . . we discussthe35 mostinteresting Introducing Chapter of fix don't that ones the anyfamily parallel namely 'prime' space groups, tallographic on generators and by comments lines."This is followed by an algebraicdescription, illusofobjectsthat a variety describes The nextchapter ofthesegroups. andrelations infinite Coxeter-Petrie are the three them the"prime" trate polyhedra Among groups. assert:"We believe thatnoThe authors Archimedean relatives. and some of their in 3-space.The of 'Archimedean' thehundreds polyhedra bodyhas yetenumerated faces that all their are we'll discuss here further ones meaning pseudo-Platonic, only 12 or have that are the same shape."They describesuch infinite 9, 7, 8, polyhedra these kinds of each or 5 incident with last). vertex, (two squares equilateral triangles of their list; in fact,HughesJones[10] has shown Theydo notclaim completeness withtriangular in 1995 that suchpolyhedra there are manyother faces,and his listis thatlistsclose Wachman et al. There is the of farfrom also [17], catalog complete. mention of the no there is also such infinite to a hundred Surprisingly, polyhedra. with withsix squaresincident Goodman-Strauss and Sullivan[4] paperon polyhedra each vertex. is Chapthemostinterest theone likelyto attract Amongtheremaining chapters of the a other It contains ter26, entitled Still." material) description (among "Higher more than out Archimedean carried enumeration ofthe4-dimensional forty polytopes announced by Conway[2]. yearsago by ConwayandM. J.T. Guy,whichwas briefly withthetwoconAlso givenis thelistof the4-dimensional Together star-polytopes. 12 vertices are vex regular with they placed at the pentagonal symmetries, polytopes in a indicated of a cuboctahedron, on whichtheir are visuallyattractive relationships way. - are annoying. - especiallyof names of people There is Murray Several typos of is the"Kline bottle"on page 217, thenotation MacBeathor McBeath;thenthere first of on and even a modification the17 wallpaper 415, my groups by "Spieser" page nameon page 420. A moreseriouserror on page 415 is theclaimthatNiggli"inadit is theother thenotation of "Spieser."In fact, way around: vertently interchanged" them in messed in has and 1927 1924 correct, [16] [12] up. No Niggli things Speiser 560 116 OF AMERICA [Monthly ASSOCIATION THE MATHEMATICAL

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is givenforeither work.Speiser'smix-up was repeated reference mathematibymany of Schattschneider See also until the cians, [14]. publication Cundy[3]. I admirethebook forwhatit of thisreviewis that The reasonforthegreatlength ofit.The authors butI do notlikemany arevery mathematicians achieves, parts gifted I results their and withmanystartling the achievements, among expectedmorefrom thatthisis an exceptional with book. While a quick glance seemedto confirm book, a close readingof the second and third illustrations, partsfoundmany fascinating above. onlysomeof whichare mentioned shortcomings, workon symmetry The disdainwithwhichprevious (evenin therestricted, groupis in at leasttwodifferis based meaning here) completely ignored damaging adopted it verydifficult forthereaderof thisbook to establish it renders entways.First, any availablein theliterature. The idiosyncratic withtheknowledge terminolconnection andmany other adds to thisdifficulty. Second,many "wonder," terms) ogy("miracle," and thecustomary do appearin worksof earlier of their ideas and results writers, aphaveprofited suchpriority. Butbeyond courtesy, they might proachis to acknowledge For example,therather withthosein theliterature. obtheir results from comparing color should have the number of alerted viousdiscrepancy prime-fold regarding types theacceptedenumerations deal withconcepts themto theneed to findout whether of the made an error. Whatever theanswer from or whether one different theirs, parties of thebook and themathematical outto be, boththeauthors had turned publicwould havebenefited. - butbearingin thebook, or at least partsof it Most of us will profit by reading is written at facevalue. one shouldnottakeall that mindthat
oftheHelenRiaboff in Summer 2008 andresources CenACKNOWLEDGMENT. Thehospitality Whiteley ofWashington aregratefully Harbor Laboratories oftheUniversity terat theFriday acknowledged.

REFERENCES e sulle corrispondenti reticorrelative, Mem. e semiregolari Sulle retidi poliedri 1. A. Andreini, regolari SocietItalianadelleScienze14 (1905) 75-129. inProceedings on Convexity, Archimedean Four-dimensional 2. J.H. Conway, oftheColloquium polytopes, Mathernatiske Universitets 1967,38-39. Institut, 1965,K0benhavns Copenhagen, Copenhagen Math.Gaz. 63 (1979) 192. 3. H. M. Cundy, p3ml orp31m?, inDiscrete In HonorofW.KuperandJ.M. Sullivan, Cubicpolyhedra, 4. C. Goodman-Strauss Geometry: in Pureand AppliedMathematics, and Textbooks 253, A. Bezdek, berg's60thBirthday, Monographs New York, 2003,305-330. ed.,MarcelDekker, Peruvian An Periodic ornamentation ofthefabric 5. B. Grnbaum, fabrics, Symmetry: plane:Lessonsfrom 1 (1990) 45-68. Journal and International Interdisciplinary in Symmetry at Globaland local symmetry, 6. 2000, Proc.ofa Symposium , Levelsoforderliness: vol. I, I. Hargitai andT. C. Laurent, theWenner-Gren Stockholm, eds.,Portland Press,London, Centre, 2002,pp. 51-61. in Symmetry ofthefabric Peruvian Comes 7. ornamentation fabrics, , Periodic plane:Lessonsfrom andD. W. Crowe, ofWashington in Culture, D. K. Washburn eds.,University ofAge: TheRole ofPattern Seattle, 2004, 18-64. Press, inRelations andG. C. Shephard, Incidence andtheir Between Com8. B. Grnbaum symbols applications, PartsofMathematics, Proc.Sympos. PureMath., vol. 34, American and Other Mathematical binatorics RI, 1979, 199-244. Providence, Society, New York,1986. and Patterns, 9. , Tilings Freeman, withtriangular uniform surfaces 10. R. HughesJones, faces,DiscreteMath. 138 Enumerating polyhedral (1995)281-292. Coloured Acta Cry st.A36 (1980) 884-888. 11. J.D. Jarratt andR. L. E. Schwarzenberger, planegroups, Z. Kristallographie Die Flchensymmetrien 60 (1924) 283-298. 12. P. Niggli, Diskontinuen, homogener basedon an asymmetrical 10 (2000) 45-50. 13. P. Raedschelders, tile,Geombinatorics Semimagic tiling

2009] June-July



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and notation, thisMonthly 85 (1978) 43914. D. Schattschneider, Theirrecognition Symmetry groups: 450. Discrete Colorgroups, 15. M. Senechal, Appl.Math.1 (1979) 5 1-73. 1927. derGruppen vonendlicher 16. A. Speiser, Die Theorie Berlin, Ordnung, Springer, Institute ofTechnology, Technion-Israel M. Burt, 17. A. Wachman, and M. Kleinmann, Infinite Polyhedra, ofArchitecture andTownPlanning, Haifa,1974. Faculty New York,1982. MarcelDekker, Plane Ornaments, 18. T. Wieting, TheMathematical Theory ofChromatic WA98195-4350 Seattle, University ofWashington, edu grunbaum@math. Washington,

MathematicsIs ...
of beauty, of thestructure "Mathematics is, on theone side,thequalitative study of newartistic forms of beauty." side is thecreator and on theother - The subtlefine in James B. Shaw,Mathematics art, WilliamL. Schaaf,ed., Mathematics: Our GreatHeritage, New York,1948,p. 50. & Brothers, Harper -Submitted byCarl C. Gaither, Killeen,TX



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