Math Homework

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Main Pyramid, Musée du Lovre, Paris

Main Pyramid, Musée du Lovre, Paris

What if he hadn’t done his math homework?

What if playing a video game like Grand Theft Auto had been more important?

Ieoh Ming Pei certainly did his homework. He completed architecture degrees at MIT and Harvard. Then he designed and completed buildings around the world. Architecture is an interesting mix of art, science, and math using both sides of the brain.

“One has to persist, and not give up principle. But there  are many ways of persisting, many  ways of trying to convince a client to do certain things. There’s a polite  way; there’s an impolite way,…but that doesn’t mean I’m  less insistent, less demanding, …not at all.

 I’m probably as demanding as any creative person. But  you have to identify the important things, and then  press  for them, not give up.” –I.M. Pei   (

My educational background is in the earth sciences. But for some reason I have been hanging around math people also. I think that is partly due to running friendships on the track at the local university, Humboldt State. Many of the math faculty are runners. But it is also due to working on scientific papers with a statistician at Humboldt, Dr. Yoon Kim. I have always been rather weak at math and the graduate courses in statistics gave me some understanding, but could not create the foundation that I avoided by not doing my math homework when I was younger. OK, really, I hated math when I was a kid.

Dr. Mark Rizzardi was patient with me and helped me struggle through a graduate class on generalized linear models. But as he filled chalk boards on three sides of the lecture room with formulas, I questioned what I was doing in a graduate math class. After making it through that course I have teamed up with Yoon on several papers and scientific posters for national and international conferences. I never thought I would enjoy math, but they have helped me to work with it effectively.

Yes IM Pei somehow stimulated that math confession. I don’t know why. And that all grew from the beautiful Louvre pyramids that IM Pei designed. There is a connection there somewhere. Really.

One connection is the crazy geometric combinations that IM Pei brought together to make an exquisite and artistic entrance to the Louvre. Math creating art.

The escalators and stairs under the main pyramid in this photograph lead you below the immense Louvre courtyard and into the museum itself. (You can see the location of the pyramids in the courtyard by looking at the photo in yesterday’s posting.)

I enjoy the contrasts in this photo. The contrast between the people underground and the outside courtyard; the contrast between the 1989 pyramid and the centuries old palace visible through the glass; and the contrasts between the spiral staircase and the escalators and the rigid geometry of the pyramid itself. And I’ve always been fascinated by the two workers standing at the upper railing watching the people below. Photo: 1/125 s at f/3.4.  For other Paris photos please visit the Photo Gallery at my website: 

It’s never too late to learn. Now I’m doing my photography homework.




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