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The Mathematics of Change Ringing and Peal Bells

Change ringing, in which a band of ringers plays long sequences of permutations on a set of peal bells, is a little-known but surprisingly rich and beautiful acoustical application of mathematics
bell tower



Credit: Amanda Slater/Flickr

From SimonsFoundation.org (Find original story here).

The art or “exercise” of change ringing is a kind of mathematical team sport dating from the 1600s. It originated in England but now is found all over the world. A band of ringers plays long sequences of permutations on a set of peal bells. Understanding the patterns so they can be played quickly from memory is an exact mental exercise which takes months for ringers to perfect. Composers of new sequences must understand the combinatorics of permutations, the physical constraints of heavy bells, and the long history of the art and its specialized vocabulary. Change ringing is a little-known but surprisingly rich and beautiful acoustical application of mathematics.

The video shows members of the Washington Ringing Society of Washington, D.C., ringing a long touch of Grandsire Caters.

 

Reprinted with permission from SimonsFoundation.org whose mission is to enhance public understanding of science by covering research developments and trends in mathematics and the physical and life sciences.

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