6 June 2016

LEGO math on the cover of American magazine


“The LEGO Counting Problem” by professor Søren Eilers is the introductory article in the May issue of The American Mathematical Monthly.

Søren EilersThe journal is published by "The Mathematical Association of America" (MAA), the largest professional society that focuses on undergraduate mathematics education. MAA members include university, college, and high school teachers; graduate and undergraduate students – and anyone else who are interested in the mathematical sciences.

- Having a cover story in "Monthly", which is probably the most widely read mathematics journal in the world, must be the highest one can achieve as an expositor of mathematics, says Søren with a grin.

- It’s the first time I publish a pure outreach paper about the case - the rest I've made has been "real" mathematics in actual research journals, mainly with Bergfinnur Durhuus. In the article, I also describe the problem history for the first time – I received much help from the LEGO Group Archive to do so.

Søren's use of LEGO in mathematics has given him (and mathematics) considerable publicity. He talks about his research in the American movie "LEGO - A Brickumentary" from 2013. How many combinations can you make with six two-by-four blocks. LEGO itself initially thought 102,981,500. Søren found additionally 800 million possibilities.

Søren also used LEGO in his Experimental Mathematics courses at the Department of Mathematical Sciences. He explains in this short video: Mathematics with LEGO bricks. The math problem here is: How many different colors are necessary in a LEGO building if two blocks of the same color cannot touch each other.

- I’m working on a follow-up article with that subject. The working title is "The LEGO coloring problem". But whereas I was invited to submit the first article by the editorial board, it’s not at all certain that the "Monthly" will publish the next one, says Søren.

Read more:

If you have acces to UCPH's intranet (KUnet), you can read the article here:The Lego Counting Problem
Søren Eilers
The American Mathematical Monthly
Vol. 123, No. 5 (May 2016), pp. 415-426  
Copyright 2016. Mathematical Association of America. All Rights Reserved.