Mathematical Beauty

14 September 2019

Doing some research today led me to a very interesting article from Earlham College, about the sine wave and its importance in music.

In this article, the sine wave is described in a way that I thought was actually kind of beautiful; “A sine wave, ultimately, is a circle expressed in time.” (Earlham College, n.d.).

I’ve heard sine waves explained in this way before, though it has been some time since I’ve had to deal with sin, but that feeling of aesthetic pleasure about a sine wave, made me stop and think.

I find it fascinating that mathematical concepts can have beauty at all. It’s an interesting idea to think that intangible things can provoke a feeling of aesthetic pleasure.

I find this happens as well in programming; and more often as I continue to advance my understanding of programming languages. I will often look on a block of code I’ve written, and I stop and think “damn, this a beautiful piece of code!”

Perhaps the feeling of aesthetic pleasure actually comes from deep understanding or epiphany, as if we are given a glimpse into the very nature of the object.

This also led me to the discovery of a field of study in neuroscience, that I’ll have to read more about, called neuroaesthetics, which is the study of how we experience beauty.

Anyways, it was a thought that felt important, and worthy of documentation.

Rambling over. Time to get back to work.

References

Earlham College. (n.d.). On The Mathematics of the Sine Wave. Retrieved from https://legacy.earlham.edu/~tobeyfo/musictechnology/2_SineWaveMath_edit.html