's Beautiful Symmetry
(MIT Press, 2020) is both a fascinating book and a concept -- it's like no other book I’ve ever read. It's a coloring book about math, inviting us to engage with mathematical concepts visually through coloring challenges and visual puzzles. We can explore symmetry and the beauty of mathematics playfully, coloring through ideas usually reserved for advanced courses. The book is for children and adults, for math nerds and math avoiders, for educators, students, and coloring enthusiasts.
Through illustration, language that is visual, and words that are jargon-free, the book introduces group theory as the mathematical foundation for discussions of symmetry, covering symmetry groups that include the cyclic groups, frieze groups, and wallpaper groups. The illustrations are drawn by algorithms, following the symmetry rules for each given group. The coloring challenges can be completed and fully realized only on the page; solutions are provided. Online, in a complementary digital edition, the illustrations come to life with animated interactions that show the symmetries that generated them.
Traditional math curricula focus on arithmetic and the manipulation of numbers, and may make some learners feel that math is not for them. By offering a more visual and tactile approach, this book shows how math can be for everyone. Combining the playful and the pedagogical, Beautiful Symmetry offers both relaxing entertainment for recreational colorers and a resource for math-curious readers, students, and educators.