What Is The '17 Squares In A Larger Square' Meme? The 'Ugly Math' Problem Explained
Either you love math or absolutely hate everything related to it. Whether you're still in school or have graduated a long time ago, the memory of sleepless nights before exams can still be there to haunt you. That said, this article will fumble its way about a certain viral math theory that shows the most efficient and compact way to fit 17 squares in a larger square.
Bored yet? Let me tell you how the internet did its magic and transformed this subject into a series of funny memes on Twitter.
What Is The '17 Squares In A Larger Square'?
Before we discuss this meme, we have to take a detour back to 1998, when John Bidwell, an undergraduate student at the University of Hawaii, solved a math problem on how to pack equal squares in a larger square. This solution inspired Twitter user @KangarooPhysics to post a series of tweets (see below) in 2021 about "The best known packings of N equal circles into a square and a circle."
How Did '17 Squares In A Larger Square' Become A Meme On Twitter?
Aesthetics is everything, especially on the internet. So when Twitter users discovered the image of non-organized squares inside a larger square with the text "best known packings of square," it caused an uproar of memes on the platform. Twitter user @eigenrobot was one of the first to rise against the math problem with a quote tweet from 2021 saying, "vaguely offensive act by God if this holds up."
The image was then left untouched for a few years until @KangarooPhysics decided to repost the subject on February 2023, bringing back hoards of unsatisfied people with the lack of aesthetics in the math solution. Twitter user @NathanpmYoung declared that "God is dead and the most efficient way to pack 17 squares into a square killed him."
Well, if you're still here and want to learn more about the optimal packing of 17 equal squares into larger square warfare, TikToker @saxxie.dev delves a bit further into why this math solution is considered "ugly math."
@saxxie.dev #stitch with @lili0235wm8 If u like packing problems hmu #math #categorytheory #compositionality ♬ Paradise – Ikson
For the full history of the quote, be sure to check out our entry on the 17 squares in a larger square for even more information.
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