August 19, 1954 -
Daina Taimina, a renowned Latvian mathematician, graduated from the University of Latvia in 1977 and received a higher doctoral degree in mathematics from the university in 1992. She taught at the University of Latvia for many years before joining the Cornell University mathematics department, where she taught from 1996 to 2013.
Taimina revolutionized a type of mathematical imagery for hyperbolic geometry. Her colorful crochet models were used to teach students about this type of geometry. Before this, hyperbolic planes were modeled with mediums such as paper. By increasing stitches in constant ratio and adjusting the ratio of increase, she was able to crochet her first-ever hyperbolic plane in 1997. Using her newfound techniques, Taimina traveled to many colleges, high schools, and even museums to speak about visualizing hyperbolic space and her 2009 book Adventures with Hyperbolic Planes. For this work she won the 2009 Bookseller/Diagram Prize for Oddest Title of the Year, as well as the 2012 Euler Book Prize awarded by the Mathematical Association of America.
Soon she was invited to exhibits and to perform solo shows. Since beginning her career, she has participated in around 30 exhibits, and several solos show worldwide. In 2018 Taimina published a second edition of Crocheting Adventures with Hyperbolic Planes: Tactile Mathematics, Art and Craft for all to Explore. This updated version truly refined the development of geometry concerning art, nature, and science while maintaining the recent applications of hyperbolic geometry that she studied, such as to medicine, architecture, fashion, and quantum computing. Not afraid to learn from her mistakes, she listened to other mathematicians and experienced crocheters to improve the instructions to make the designs accessible for all.