**Group theory** supposedly belongs to “higher mathematics” but it’s more like a **preschooler playing with coloured blocks** than it is like abstruse journal articles full of pointy symbols.

Say you have a **collection of things**. And then you **do stuff** to them. Maybe there is only a finite range of options of what to do, as in

- tying a
**knot**
- turning your
**mattress** (apparently you’re supposed to do that every season)
- paging through a
**book**
- playing with a
**belt**
- solving
**Ernő Rubik’s cube**
- rotating your
**car tyres** (not spinning them; taking them off and interchanging them)
- turning over a piece of
**paper**
- opening and closing a
**cupboard**
**spinning** around in a circle to make yourself dizzy
- the Tits Group … I’m not sure where you would encounter it in life, but there is only a finite number of things you can do
- playing peek-a-boo

An example (**ways to re-arrange 4 things**) tomorrow.

You’ll see that **the only rules** in abstract mathematics **are the ones you make up**. I’ll add, **breaking the rules** of math is exactly what led to **advances** in particle physics, music theory, crystallography, machine learning, cryptography, and organic chemistry.

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Tags: education, games, group theory, kids, le quotidien, life, long reads, math, mathematics, maths, play, rules

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