Dr. Torrence wins math award

From July 29th to August 1st Randolph-Macon Math Professor Eve Torrence, who has been with the college since 1994, attended the International Bridges Art and Mathematics Conference for the fourth time. Previously, the conferences were held in Portugal, Maryland, and South Korea, but this year the conference returned to Maryland and was held at the University of Baltimore.

The conference had about 500 people in attendance, and out of this amount, approximately 150 people submitted works to the International Juried Mathematical Art Show.

There were a total of nearly 300 works to be judged at the Art show and, out of 300 works, Professor Torrence submitted two of them. Each year, the conference hands out four awards, which are: the Best in Show, Best Use of Mathematics, Best Craftsmanship, and Most Innovative.

Professor Torrence received the highest honor of Best in Show for one of her two pieces titled, “Day.”

Professor Torrence said she “was completely in shock,” and stated that “there was so much great stuff at the show.”

Professor Torrence got inspiration for her pieces from Eric Demaine. Demaine is a professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT, and is a renowned mathematician.

“He had this workshop going on where he folds paper to make these high pads. They are folded so that they curve kind of like a Pringles potato chip. He uses twenty-four [high pads] to make a shape that is kind of cool looking, and it’s based on a cube,” Professor Torrence explained.

Professor Torrence used this as her inspiration and wondered if she could do the same kind of thing, but use a dodecahedron,which is a12-sided pentagonal shape, instead of a cube.

“The thought process [for the project] was over a couple of years, but I just kept coming back to the idea of how I could make something that would actually fit together and work,” Professor Torrence stated.

After much trial and error using square shaped pieces of paper, Professor Torrence realized that she was looking at it all wrong. While Demaine was calling his shape a cube, Professor Torrence realized “it was really a rhombic dodecahedron.” Therefore, instead of thinking about her piece as a dodecahedron, she needed to use a rhombic triacontahedron, which has 30 rhombic sides. As a result, she began cutting her pieces of paper into rhombi instead of squares.

Her first piece, “Day,” which won the award for Best in Show, was made in the traditional form and everted, but Professor Torrence then wondered what would happen if she inverted it.

Out of this thought process came her second piece titled “Night.” Both pieces are on display in the Randolph-Macon McGraw-Page Library.

Also, after winning this prestigious award, Professor Torrence and her husband, Professor Bruce Torrence, also a Professor of Mathematics at Randolph-Macon, were asked to be the Program Co-Chairs and the proceeding editors of the conference’s journal in 2016.

Each year the Bridges Conference has both of the prospective speakers write a paper on what they would like to talk about. After the papers are written and submitted, the conference chooses the speakers and then binds the papers into a scientific journal to be handed out when participants arrive at the conference. The conference is very diverse and focuses on many topics such as architecture, art, culture, mathematics, music, and science. Professor Torrence is very excited for next year’s conference which will be held in Finland.

The staff here at the The Yellow Jacket Newspaper congratulates Professor Torrence on this wonderful accomplishment and wish you the best of luck in the future!

-Kayla Koslosky ’18, Junior Features Editor

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