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In Pursuit of the Traveling Salesman by William J. Cook

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11: Aesthetics

Mathematics was always a source of complex (for outsiders, mystical) patterns.

—Jaroslav NešetImageil, 1993.1

When a mathematician refers to a particular item of study as beautiful, it comes without any implication that the beauty can be realized in a physical form. This holds true for the TSP. A tour through a set of points may have a pleasing shape, but it is the combined beauty of the geometry and complexity of the problem, not the tour itself, that attracts mathematicians. Nevertheless, the TSP has been adopted in several engaging works of art, in some cases successfully capturing the mathematical essence that has brought so much ...

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