The Sound of Symmetry
Journal article, 2015

The inverse spectral problem was popularized by M. Kac's 1966 article in THIS MONTHLY “Can one hear the shape of a drum?” Although the answer has been known for over twenty years, many open problems remain. Intended for general audiences, readers are challenged to complete exercises throughout this interactive introduction to inverse spectral theory. The main techniques used in inverse spectral problems are collected and discussed, then used to prove that one canhear the shape of: parallelograms, acute trapezoids, and the regular n-gon. Finally, we show that one can realistically hear the shape of the regular n-gon amongst all convex n-gons because it is uniquely determined by a finite number of eigenvalues; the sound of symmetry can really be heard!


Z. Lu

University of California at Los Angeles

Julie Rowlett

Chalmers, Mathematical Sciences, Mathematics

University of Gothenburg

American Mathematical Monthly

0002-9890 (ISSN)

Vol. 122 9 815-835

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