The
January 2016 issue of Scientific American ran an article by Clara Moskowitz
titled "Elegant Equations" that presented a few prints from "The Concinnitas Project"
which "...is a collection of ten aquatints produced from the contributions of ten
mathematicians and physicists in response to the prompt to transcribe their 'most
beautiful mathematical expression.'" The renowned mathematicians and scientists
who contributed to the project are
Michael Atiyah,
Enrico Bombieri,
Simon Donaldson,
Freeman Dyson,
Murray GellMann,
Richard Karp,
Peter Lax,
David Mumford,
Stephen Smale,
and Steven
Weinberg.
My personal favorite is "Ampère's Law," by Simon Donaldson, because it incorporates a simple
line drawing along with the familiar equations. It brings back memories of sitting
in electromagnetics class at the University of Vermont watching my seriously brilliant
professor (no kidding),
Dr. Kenneth Golden, draw boundary value problems on the chalkboard and write
out formulas and proofs  all from memory. Aside: Dr. Golden always had an office
full of students during office hours, during which he would work out any problem
in the text book (Field and Wave
Electromagnetics) as easily as most of us perform simple addition.
Next in order of most liked is "Newton's Method," by Stephen Smale. I remember learning about
Newton's Method in a differential equations class, even though, technically, it
is not itself a differential equation.
Newton's Method
(Wikipedia) provides a means of estimating successively
closer approximations to the roots (or zeroes) of a realvalued (i.e., nonimaginary)
function. You begin with a 'best guess' and proceed with calculations. As with most
methods of convergence, this is fraught with traps that could cause the result to
eventually attempt to divide by zero, or go off in a completely erroneous direction.
It has been the subject of much attention.
Richard Karp's entry of "P Versus NP" immediately reminded me of Charlie Epps,
the boy genius mathematician in the television show
NUMB3ERS
whose goal in life was to solve the P = NP quandary. I can solve it for the trivial
case where N = 1 ;)
Surprisingly, Maxwell's Equations was not chosen by any of the ten participants.
As the unwilling victim of societal sensitivity after being constantly bombarded
with messages of how my type  white, heterosexual male  is responsible for all
the world's evils, I feel dutybound to point out that unless one of these ten mathematicians
and scientists is selfidentifying as otherwise in order to gain access to
Target bathrooms, all are, well, old white guys.
Bob Feldman regarding The Concinnitas Project: "The portfolio draws its name from a
word famously used by the Renaissance scholar, artist, architect, and philosopher
Leon Battista Alberti (14041472) to connote the balance of number, outline, and
position (in essence, number geometry, and topology) that he believed characterize
a beautiful work of art."
Posted May 16, 2016
