The Pi Mu Epsilon Journal Sonnet Contest

The Fall 2008 issue of the Pi Mu Epsilon Journal announced a sonnet contest.  A review of the rhyme scheme for a 14-line iambic pentameter sonnet was given there together with an example. Readers were asked to adhere to this pattern and write a sonnet about any mathematical topic. The entries were supposed to answer the question whether it is possible to follow strict rules for form, length, and content but still be creative. The editor's choice is the poem entitled "Limited" by Mike Cole. His poem will appear in the spring 2009 issue of the Pi Mu Epsilon Journal and he will receive a $50 cash prize. Here is Mike's sonnet, along with those of the runners ups.


by Mike Cole, student at the University of Montana, Missoula (editor's choice)

The one who seeks with half his heart may find
Interpretations manifold . but then,
What creature burning for the Godhead.s mind
Would be content among the thoughts of men?

For mathematics reaches far beyond
Mere points of view; the sphere submits to none .
Escapes great Euclid, singular Riemann .
A god whose ill-formed eikon is the sun.

So I, full-souled, pursue this hidden lore,
This meta-math, the Source unnamed and free,
This upper room upon whose fractal door
I.ll knock, and so approach infinity.

    I sometimes think I've found the door.  I pale,
    Then realize it.s just another veil.

March of the Primes

by Victoria McCoy and Martha E. McCoy, students at Michigan State University (runner up)

At night, the weary traveler of the mind
Eschews to count the drifting, dreamlike sheep.
Instead she thinks on something more defined:
The primes, and pondering them she drifts to sleep. . .

For they do not march in chaotic tide .
Despite their seeming randomness of flow,
The Riemann-zeta function can provide
A description of the patterns they show.

From primes to reals is simple construction:
Prime numbers let integers be expressed,
Division gives rational production,
And dedican cuts reveal the rest.

In strange mathematical divinity
Live the primes, marching to infinity.

The Proof

by Alison Marr, Faculty Advisor, The Texas Pi Chapter at Southwestern University (runner up)

The mathematicians soon will show the truth
By proving that root 2's irrational.
For this we use the contradiction proof.
Assume square root of 2 is rational.

Root two must be a fraction, p o'er q.
A reduced fraction let the ratio be.
We also see our fraction squared is 2;
q squared times 2 is just the square of p.

The even p can now be called 2m,
So substitute and square both sides again.
We find q squared is twice the square of m;
We lack coprime of p and q and then

A contradiction! Celebration, Glee!
Root 2 irrational, thus QED.

Hilbert's Dream

by Stephanie Jones, student at Williamette University (runner up)

Oh world of mathematical objects
With how many colors shall I color thee?
Is it possible to split you up into sects?
Or do you combine into a single entity?  

Surely complex analysis and elliptic function
Could not possibly be one in the same
Yet within number theory they form a junction
Giving Taniyama-Shimura and Wiles great fame  

And if these fields can be successfully mated
Though we thought them previously distinct
Could not each part of math be related
Even if formerly they were not linked?  

So continue, I beg you; every nuance explore
And achieve golden perfection, forevermore.