History of Tessellations

    Tessellations have been around for centuries and are still quite prevalent today.  However the study of tessellations in mathematics has a relatively short history.  In 1619, Johannes Kepler did one of the first documented studies of tessellations when he wrote about the regular and semiregular tessellation, which are coverings of a plane with regular polygons.  Some two hundred years later in 1891, the Russian crystallographer E. S. Fedorov proved that every tiling of the plane is constructed in accordance to one of seventeen different groups of isometries.  Fedorov's work marked the unofficial beginning of the mathematical study of tessellations.  Other prominent contributors include Shubnikov and Belov (1951); and Heinrich Heesch and Otto Kienzle (1963).

    However,  the most famous contributor was the Dutch artist, M. C. Escher (1898-1972).  M.C. Escher was a man studied and greatly appreciated by respected mathematicians, scientists and crystallographers yet he had no formal training in science or mathematics.  He was a humble man who considered himself neither an artist nor a  mathematician.He is most famous for his so-called impossible structures, such as Ascending and Descending, Relativity, his Transformation Prints, such as Metamorphosis I, Metamorphosis II and Metamorphosis III, Sky & Water I or Reptiles.  During his lifetime, M.C. Escher made 448 lithographs, woodcuts and wood engravings and over 2000 drawings and sketches.3 (click here see examples of his work.)




1 http://library.thinkquest.org/16661/history/math.html

2 http://worldofescher.com/

3 http://www.mcescher.com/


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