Deep truths emerging with African mathematics


Dr. Gilmer began her field work in Ethnomathematics in New York in 1998. Ethnomathematics is the study of the intersection of culture and mathematics. Ethnomathematicians study how different people in different environments (from professional classrooms to religious traditions) develop their own ways of doing mathematics. Dr. Gilmer used her skills as an Ethnomathematician to study hair braiding techniques in city salons, along with two assistants. They studied the tessellations in box braids and triangular braids. She applied the patterns that she found in these techniques of braiding to nature and mathematics. She saw similarities in the tessellations of the hair braiding to the hexagonal figures found on the flesh of pineapples and in honeycombs.

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