Friday, August 4, 2017

Centos from 2017 Bridges Math-Arts Conference

     Last Monday evening I returned home from the 2017 Bridges Math-and-the-Arts Conference at the University of Waterloo.  One of the special events in which I participated was a Sunday afternoon poetry reading; information about the reading (and links) are here in my July 17 posting .  
     Another conference activity -- machine-based and developed by Waterloo computer science grad student Erinn Atwater to work with a data-base of quotations I had gathered that relate to math or poetry -- was a machine set-up to invite conference attendees to compose a four-line Cento from a screen-selection of choices.
     Here is a sample of the Cento poetry that was created; the assembler of these lines listed her name simply as Bianca:

Mathematics is not only connected to art; it is just art.                  (by Solomon Marcus)
There is always a third point between any two.                             (by Michael Rosen)
My imagination is still the same. It’s bad with large numbers.       (by Wislawa Szymborska)
Though this be madness, yet there is method in it.                        (by William Shakespeare)

Here is another, composed by Nova Latet:

If it’s a good idea, do it.                                                    (by Grace Murray Hopper)
If you don’t aim at a target, you won’t hit it.          (by Anonymous)
Statistics saved a legion of soldiers.                          (by Eveline Pye)
Mathematics is the music of reason.                         (by James Joseph Sylvester)

Perhaps YOU will want to try -- or ask your students to do so -- some Cento creation.  My file of nearly 300 mathish or poetic quotes that can be a basis for forming a huge and varied collection of these wonderful Cento's, is available here (One idea that I had hoped could be implemented at Bridges is to engage participants in creating a linked sequence of Cento stanzas -- with the last line of one stanza serving and the first-line of the next.  Next year, perhaps.)


  1. Thanks for sharing Joanne. I like the dynamic of it. I also like the randomness coming with the user's decision-making process. A very interesting new area of Mathematics and Poetry collaboration to look into indeed. I'll be feeding you lines of my writing on the projects I am involved in, if it can be of help

    1. Jean--
      Thanks for dropping by. I look forward to your input feeds.