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MANY KINDS OF MATHEMATICS AS PERFORMING ARTS Pradip Baksi The following note is about the problems and prospects

of studying the historical existence of many kinds of mathematics also as performing arts. Elders of the Northern and Western Mediterranean Basin Mathematical Culture like Ramon Lull, Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz, Jakob Bernoulli and Leopold Kronecker have freely used the word ars in respect of combinatoria, characteristica, inveniendi, demonstrandi, conjectandi, mathesis We do perform many kinds of mathematics. So why not consider them also as performing arts? The performing arts like dance, drama and music are often classified as folk, popular, kitsch [unsubstantial or gaudy, mass-produced] and, classical. Many historians of mathematics like Adolf (Andrei) Pavlovich Yushkevich, Ubiratan DAmbrosio and, many others belonging to the Ethnomathematics Movement [see: <>], have already documented the emergence and development of human mathematical activities over many geographical areas and across various historical time zones. Hence, the plurality of mathematics in space and over time on planet earth is already recognized. The recognition of many kinds of folk, popular, kitsch and classical mathematics as performing arts may open up newer lines of investigations on the plural existence of mathematics on our planet.

All mathematics, including the currently globally dominant academic mathematics, emanating from the Mediterranean Basin Mathematical Culture, are a kind of Ethnomathematics. However, some authors consider only the Paleolithic/Neolithic/Agrarian/Artisanal/Folk/Ethnic Mathematics to be proper objects of the domain of Ethnomathematics. All classical, kitsch and popular dance, drama and music have their roots in some corresponding folk dance, drama and music. Similarly, all classical, kitsch and popular mathematics as performing arts have their roots in corresponding folk mathematics. Introduction of the concept of folk mathematics as a performing art like popular, kitsch and classical mathematics may help overcome the confusions around collapsing the domains of ethnic mathematics with that of ethnomathematics-considered-as-all-mathematics. Some from among us, who have grown up in ex-colonial towns, may have been exposed to the folk, popular, kitsch and classical western and non-western performing arts. However, only a few among the South Asians, like Zubin Mehta, have become an internationally acclaimed conductor of western classical music. It was a matter of choice for him, not one of compulsion. Cultivation of classical Indian dance, music or, philosophy are also matters of choice for some Chinese, Arabs, Europeans, Africans, Americans or, Brazilians; it is not a compulsion for them. Classical Western and Northern Mediterranean Basin Mathematics, however, remain compulsory for all the school going children and, university attending young adults all over the world. The problems of this compulsory acculturation are well documented in the writings of investigators like Bal Chandra Luitel: [<>]. The popularity or otherwise of this or that branch or kind of mathematics have been historically determined by the needs and requirements of the principal stakeholders of all instruction, including those of the mathematical instruction: namely, the masters of the dominant political economy of a given space and time. All the teachers/workers/performers and, students/consumers/spectators/future users of the popular academic mathematical arts belong to the mathematical skill

formation industry of a given space and time. As in the case of popular music/dance/drama/film/television industry, so in the case of mathematical skill formation industry, neither the performers/workers/teachers nor, the audience/spectator/students are the principal stakeholders. Here the principal stakeholders are the hegemons of the dominant political economy of mathematical skill formation industry of a given geographical area, at a given historical time. In accordance with the dynamics of this industry, numerous kitsch mathematical performances/publications are also regularly churned out on a mass scale. At the very top level of the current academic mathematical research and publication, there appear some performances comparable to virtuoso performances of the classical performing arts. In this existing scenario, the perspective of many kinds of mathematics as performing arts may hold some solutions to the problems of the globally currently dominant compulsory academic mathematical culture. The problem with the above narrative at the present stage is this that barring some indigenous people in some relatively isolated corners of our planet music, dance and drama are not compulsory social skills for everyone in our times but, despite the development of some useful mathematical software and predictive tools, mathematical and statistical skills are increasingly becoming socially necessary for the present and future generations of all people on planet earth. I submit these thoughts before you. Please show me some light. Literature Julia Wells Bower, 1954. Mathematics as a creative art, The Mathematics Teacher, Vol. 47, No. 1 (January): 2-7; available at: < 67&uid=2&uid=3&uid=60&sid=21101718664661> Paul Richard Halmos, 1968. Mathematics as a creative art, The American Scientist, 56: 375-389.

John Ewing, 2007. Paul Halmos: In His Own Words, Notices of the AMS, Vol. 54, No.4 (October): 1136-44; available at: <> Armand Borel 1983. Mathematics: Art and Science, The Mathematical Intelligencer, Vol.5, No.4:9-17; available at: <> Robert Benjamin Davis, 1987. Mathematics as a performing art, The Journal of Mathematical Behavior, Vol.6, No.2 (August):157-70; available at: <> Jim Henle, 1996. Classical Mathematics. Baroque Mathematics. Romantic Mathematics? Mathematics Jazz! Also Atonal, New Age, Minimalist, and Punk Mathematics, The American Mathematical Monthly, Vol.103, No.1 (January): 1829; available at: < 3&uid=60&sid=21101719160671> Susanne Prediger, 2003. Mathematics Cultural Product or Epistemic Exception?; available at: <> or,


Zoltan Paul Dienes, 2004. Mathematics as an Art form; available at: <> A Conversation with Zoltan P. Dienes; available at: <>

Dick de Veaux, 2004. Math is Music Stats is Literature; available at: <> The Bridges Organization: art and mathematics; <> <> Rachel Hall, 2008. The Sound of Numbers: A Tour of Mathematical Musical Theory; available at: <> Rachel Hall: <>; <>

Ulrich Timme Kragh, 2012. Of pop, kitsch, and cultural heritage: A meditation on cultural heritage and its intimate relationship with history, The Newsletter of the International Institute of Asian Studies, No. 62, Winter 2012: 8-9; available at: <>

Bal Chandra Luitel, (in press). Mathematics as an Im/pure Knowledge System: Symbiosis, (W) holism and Synergy in Mathematics Education; available at: < pdf>

Kolkata 25 February 2013 <>