A long time ago, in a city far, far away, a mathematician solved a puzzle, the solution of which made our modern, connected world possible. Georgia Tech's School of Music and School of Mathematics have teamed up with local Atlanta artists to create a performance employing contemporary dance, original music, and storytelling, called The Seven Bridges of Königsberg, to celebrate this history, spark people’s curiosity, and convey the wonder of mathematics.
The classic puzzle that inspired Leonhard Euler to found the fields of topology and graph theory (or network theory) asked the simple question: Is it possible to cross all of the seven bridges of the city of Königsberg exactly once, with no repetition or backtracking? Euler was not content with a yes-or-no answer, but instead began to think about the nature of connectedness in a mathematical way, as it applies to all possible cities with any number of islands and bridges; as well as to networks of transportation, commerce, and communication; to the pathways by which diseases or ideas spread; and ultimately to our contemporary interconnected life.
The Seven Bridges of Königsberg was selected by a new program called Science in Vivo, funded by the Simons Foundation, to receive one of its inaugural ten awards as an Experimental Site “exploring what is possible when science experiences for the public are integrated into existing cultural gatherings.” The debut performance on September 13 will take place on the Georgia Tech campus along Atlantic Ave, where an installation of the Seven Bridges of Königsberg puzzle was constructed earlier this year. To tell about the foundation of graph theory, the GT Symphony Orchestra will perform a new composition by composer Marshall Coats, while a math team and dancers interpret the story and some concepts about graphs, as choreographed by guest artist Kristel Tedesco. This performance will be repeated again at the Bailey Center in the Kennesaw State University on September 23, and other versions of the show will take place at public locations around Atlanta and the Southeast region in September and October.
In addition to the spectacle, the audience will have opportunities to explore mathematical puzzles and games and to personally engage with the mathematicians and artists.
The Seven Bridges of Königsberg is a production of Mathematics in Motion, Inc. and the Georgia Tech Schools of Music and Mathematics, with financial support from the Georgia Tech College of Sciences, the Georgia Tech Office of the Arts as one of the Creative Curriculum Initiatives, and Science in Vivo.