Mathematics & Visual Wordplay

Ambigrams are a form of visual wordplay in which words are written/designed such that they can be read in more than one way. I have been creating ambigrams and other such oddities for a while and I feel extremely lucky that what started as a personal interest and passion has led to some wonderful experiences and learning.

•••

If you are not familiar with ambigrams the video below would be a good introduction not just to ambigrams but also to the underlying mathematics, and some interesting stories about my experiences with creating and sharing these with the world at large.

•••

My ambigram work and it relationship to creativity and mathematics was the focus of an exhibition at the MSU Museum, titled Deep-Play: Creativity in Math & Art through Visual Wordplay

•••

I have also written a series of articles on the relationship between ambigrams and mathematics with my friend Gaurav Bhatnagar for the math-educator’s magazine At Right Angles. You can access all the articles in one single PDF  here or read them all below as an embeddable document (see below).

•••

I was interviewed on Stateside with Cynthia Canty, a radio show on Michigan Radio about my exhibition (Deep-Play: Creativity in Math & Art through Visual Wordplay) at the MSU Museum. You can listen to it on the Michigan Radio website MSU exhibit explores creativity through art and math or directly here…

I just discovered the youtube video of a talk given by my co-author Gaurav Bhatnagar at a Math Ed conference in India, titled: On Punya Mishra’s mathematical ambigrams. The conference was organized by Math4All

•••

Some additional links

  • My webpage about the exhibition (with photographs of the gallery and the gallery-walk)
  • My articles on Math and Visual Wordplay (co-authored with Gaurav Bhatnagar) – now in one easy to access ebook!
  • Some videos show-casing my explorations in this area, including a clip from the TV show Brain Games, that showcases one of my designs.
  • An incomplete list of people without whose love, support and help none of this would have been possible
  • Lots of ambigram designs, arranged by category.
  • Mathematical poetry & Palindromic Poetry (related to this exhibition and also their own thing).
  • My ambigrams have made it to a few books
  • An article titled “Words as Art and Play” about my ambigram work (with a couple of examples) made it to the New Educator a publication of the College of Education at Michigan State University.
  • A space ambigram I created was featured in Archimedes, a magazine for puzzles and recreational mathematics (Check out http://www.archimedes-lab.org/)
  • My work was covered in the Sunday edition of MidDay (a daily newspaper published from Mumbai, India) on the 25th of May, 2003.
  • Ambigrams get famous in the Chess world. Ambigrams were always a part of Ram Narsimhan’s website devoted to Vishwanathan Anand (India’s first Grandmaster). Then it was picked up by ChessWatch (now defunct). More interestingly ambigrams ended up being featured in an Chess.fm Internet radio advertisement. I didn’t get a chance to hear it but this is how it went:

    <A few chess rumors>… What about the rumor that Anand is actually an Ambigram? Read all about this and other chess curiosities in ChessWatch… ” (Thanks to Ram Narasimhan for telling me about this).

    Finally, Ram asked me to create a few chess related ambigrams. One of the words he gave me was “Fritz”, maybe the second best chess playing computer program in the world today. Well I did create one (see it here) and it ended up in an article on ChessBase.com (Here is a link to the article on the chessbase website).

  • My friend, Gaurav Bhatnagar, writes a popular Mathematics column for a East-Delhi newspaper. I contributed a guest column back in December 2002.
  • An ambigram (cause-effect) I designed made it to the cover of a book written by Gary Cziko (Professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign). The book is titled “The things we do: Using the lessons of Bernard and Darwin to understand what, how, and why of our behavior” and is published by MIT press.