Knitting in PEARL #487

August 17, 2018

This week we're discussing math and things made from yarn. We welcome mathematician Daina Taimina to the show to discuss her book "Crocheting Adventures with Hyperbolic Planes: Tactile Mathematics, Art and Craft for all to Explore", and how making geometric models that people can play with helps teach math. And we speak with research scientist Janelle Shane about her hobby of training neural networks to do things like name colours, come up with Halloween costume ideas, and generate knitting patterns: often with hilarious results.

Related links:


  • Daina Taimina
  • Janelle Shane

Guest Bios

Daina Taimina

Daina Taimina studied mathematics at the University of Latvia where after graduation summa cum laude in 1977 she started to teach various math courses while completing her graduate work in Theoretical Computer Science and Mathematics. Her idea of tactile exploration in non-Euclidean geometry using crocheted hyperbolic planes gained popularity after she, with her husband Professor David Henderson, wrote "Experiencing Geometry: Euclidean and non-Euclidean with History". She has exhibited her work in the USA, Belgium, Latvia, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, and Finland. Her fiber artworks are in collections of the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum, the American History museum, the US State Department Art in Embassies, and in various private collections. Her book "Crocheting Adventures with Hyperbolic Planes: Tactile Mathematics, Art and Craft for all to Explore" earned the 2012 Euler Book Prize from Mathematical Association of Americas as the best book about mathematics for general audience. After 40 years of teaching mathematics she retired and completed second edition of her "Crocheting Adventures" and is looking forward to have time to write more books and continue to give talks about mathematics and art. You can find her at her Hyperbolic Crochet blog.

Janelle Shane

Janelle Shane's neural network blog AI Weirdness features algorithms that try to invent human things like recipes, paint colours, and Halloween costumes. Their struggles illustrate what artificial intelligence is good at, and where it has a lot to learn. She has only made a neural network-generated recipe once, and discovered that horseradish brownies are about as terrible as you might imagine.