Cover image for The mathematics of juggling
The mathematics of juggling
Polster, Burkard.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Springer, [2003]

Physical Description:
xvii, 226 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
QA292 .P65 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



As a juggler the author likes to finish his performances with a stunt that combines props and techniques from a variety of juggling disciplines. Imagine him idling on a giraffe unicycle, while balancing a spinning basketball on a mouth stick, and toss-juggling a sword, a toilet plunger, and a rubber chicken. As a mathematician he is also interested in the treasure trove of beautiful mathematics used to model the different activities in a juggler's repertoire. In this book he provides an intellectually stimulating collection of mostly self-contained mathematical essays that introduce the reader to many elegant results and techniques from a wide range of mathematical disciplines such as combinatorics, graph theory, knot theory, mechanics, differential equations, control theory, and robotics. "The Mathematics of Juggling" is the first comprehensive account summarizing and expanding the results in the literature on juggling tricks and skills, as well as the mathematics behind these tricks and skills. Anybody who is not put off by the word "mathematics" in the title of this book should have a good time reading it.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Mathematics constitutes an optic through which one may approach the entirety of the world. School curricula often project narrower views of the field, either mathematics as a mere tool for the physical and social sciences or mathematics self-justified, an art for art's sake. As distribution requirements have reemerged as fashion in higher education, universities increasingly require all students to take some higher mathematics. This induces a need for mathematics courses that reach students wherever their main interests happen to lie. Traditionally, the humanities have seemed most remote from mathematics, so educators should particularly welcome materials that explore the mathematical side of art and music.The 28 essays in Mathematics and Art cover a wide range. Some discuss mathematical objects from an aesthetic viewpoint; others survey art and music produced with the aid of mathematical tools and ideas. Many contributions incidentally show high-speed computation concretizing mathematics in such a way to put it in the service of the arts. The first five essays in Mathematics and Music explore the long shared history of mathematics and music. Then two essays explore the logical framework of music. Other essays explore mathematics as a tool for musical analysis, mathematics as it underlies some orally transmitted artistic practices, and the mathematics of computer-generated sound. G. Mazzola offers a sketch of his program for understanding music through category theory as set forth in his tome The Topos of Music (2002). Mathematics touches the practice of juggling in at least two ways: through the physics of rigid bodies under the influence of gravity, and through the combinatorics of hands meeting flying objects over a time interval. As we see in The Mathematics of Juggling, the combinatorial aspect in particular turns out quite rich, with theorems turning up of surprising depth. One even finds a musical connection in a chapter devoted to juggling patterns based on change ringing. ^BSumming Up: All three books--Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty. D. V. Feldman University of New Hampshire