*Surfaces are complicated. Triangles are simple. That’s an idea behind some methods of creating computer graphics and some advanced mathematics. If we have a surface, we can take a bunch of points on the surface and connect them into triangles to obtain an approximation of the surface. That’s all well and good, but how reliable is the triangulation? How accurately does it reflect the properties of the original surface? For example, as we increase the number of triangles in the approximation of the surface, will the surface area of the triangulated surface get close to the surface area of the original surface?*

*In 1880, mathematician and righteous facial hair maintainer Hermann Schwarz answered this question in the negative by producing a counterexample, a surface and sequence of triangulated approximations for which the surface area of the triangulations gets arbitrarily large and hence doesn’t converge to the surface area of the original surface.*

*Earlier this semester, I had the opportunity to go to an origami workshop put on by the local chapter of the Association for Women in Mathematics. Radhika Gupta, a graduate student here at the University of Utah, showed us how to make this counterexample, dubbed the Schwarz lantern, just by folding paper.*

Read the full post at Roots of Unity.

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