Visiting Amsterdam like a Mathematician

After the last post on what things to see if you are a maths lover in Amsterdam, today I thought about talking about more subtle things that can be found there if you are mathematician. Again I want to thank Donovan Carroll – a freelance mathematics teacher, who has started a great project called Math in Amsterdam – who collaborated with me on these posts. Check the post What a Mathematician should see in Amsterdam to find out more.

For this post I wanted to talk about some great architectural things which offer a lot of maths applications, most of them are more geometry related, but I am sure we can come up with other ideas:

  1. Driehoekstraat – “Triangle Street” – almost equilateral triangular shaped neighborhood with three streets coming to a concurrent point in the middle of the triangle. (quote by Donovan Carroll) Using this interesting idea for a street there could be investigated many properties of an equilateral triangle and important points inside it. Also, you could discuss with children things about angles and maybe some engineering questions based on construction. Untitled
  2.  EYE Film Institute Netherlands is a Dutch archive and museum in Amsterdam that preserves and presents both Dutch and foreign films screened in the Netherlands. The museum collection includes 37,000 film titles, 60,000 posters, 700,000 photographs and 20,000 books. The earliest materials date from the start of the film industry in the Netherlands in 1895. From a mathematical point of view, the interesting part is the fact that the museum is tiled with rhombuses and trapezoids. Besides the fact that the whole building is made up of interesting shapes and we could ask the children to calculate the volume of it, or the surface area. There could be many interesting questions about the patterns on the walls. Why did they chose these 2 patterns (rhombusses and trapeziods)? Are there any different patterns that could be used? and the questions could go on. 
  3. Houses with sharp corners – as you can imagine, due to the way the canals split the city there are many interesting house shapes in all of Amsterdam. So, there you can see a house in the shape of a right trapezoid with one angle being 46 degrees and another one in the shape of another right trapezoid but with one angle being 50 degrees. Of course this is a great example of showing the importance of understanding the concept of angles in day to day life. 
  4. They also have interesting names for streets: Pythagorasstraat – street named after Pythagoras; Pentagon – neighborhood and street named because the surrounding building has five sides (irregular pentagon).
  5. Descartes House – one time summer residence of mathematician and philosopher Rene’ Descartes. Rene Descartes has a special relation with Netherlands, in 1629 he enrolled at the Leiden University to study mathematics with Jacob Golius. In Amsterdam, he had a relationship with a servant girl, Helena Jans van der Strom, with whom he had a daughter, Francine, who was born in 1635 in Deventer, at which time Descartes taught at the Utrecht University.

    Source: Wikipedia and Math in Amsterdam;

    Share with me any images you have if you have visited/seen these places. If you know of any other interesting places that should be mentioned in a post like this let me know. I would love to know more about this.

    Thank you for your help and support, you are the best and I appreciate everything that you do. Have a great day.  You can find me on Facebook,  Tumblr,  Google+,  Twitter,  Instagram  and  WeHeartIt. I will try to post there as often as possible. Also my email address is:

    Don’t forget that maths is everywhere! Enjoy! ~LThMath


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