(Roughly) Daily

“Arithmetic! Algebra! Geometry! Grandiose trinity! Luminous triangle! Whoever has not known you is without sense!”*…


In 1915, Polish mathematician Wacław Sierpiński described what’s now known as “the Sierpinski triangle” in 1915.  He was explicating the properties of a pattern that had appeared in the 13th-century Cosmati mosaics in the cathedral of Anagni,Italy, and other places of central Italy, in carpets in many places (e.g., in the nave of the Roman Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin), and in isolated triangles positioned in the rotae of several churches and Basiliche.

Sierpiński noted that, like our old friend Gabriel’s Horn (AKA Torricelli’s Trumpet), the pattern generates a paradoxical outcome:


See how this fabulous fractal maps onto the rather better-known Pascal’s Triangle.

Comte de Lautréamont


As we ponder patterns, we might send efficient birthday greetings to Lillian Evelyn Moller Gilbreth; she was born on this date in 1878.   One of the first working female engineers holding a Ph.D., she was arguably the first true industrial/organizational psychologist.  With her husband Frank Gilbreth. she was one of the first “efficiency experts” helping establish the fields of motion study and human factors.  She is perhaps best remembered as the subject of Cheaper by the Dozen and Belles on Their Toes (charming books written by their children Ernestine and Frank Jr.) recounting the couple’s family life with their twelve children, and their application of time and motion study to the organization and daily routines of such a large family.




%d bloggers like this: