GC SF Sp WH BV YL BT CP SA CB CC Back to puzzle


Torsion Twirl

by Shelly Manber

The eight equations at the bottom are all equations of elliptic curves. The eight videos each give two pieces of information: a point on an elliptic curve with integer coefficients given by the number of turns the x and y dancers do, counterclockwise for positive and clockwise for negative, and a unique ballet turn whose name is enumerated by the dashes below the video.

Each of the points in the videos are points on one of the curves, which gives the matching between equation and video. Furthermore, each of the points is a torsion point on its given elliptic curve, i.e. a point of finite order under the elliptic curve group law. In other words, for each of these points, if you add the point to itself some number of times under the elliptic curve group law, you will get back to the identity. The smallest number of times a point adds to itself to give the identity is called the order of the point. If you find the order of each of these torsion points and index into the name of the ballet turn, you will get the answer phrase: THE TWIST.

Something to note: the fifth video gives the point (0, 1) which is supposed to be a representative of the projective point (0 : 1 : 0), i.e. the identity of the elliptic curve as a group and the unique point of order one. This is matched with y2 + y = x3 − 2x − 1, the only curve with trivial torsion group (i.e., the only torsion point on this curve is the identity).

The data is as follows:

Point Curve
Order Letter
1 FOUETTE (5, 5) y2 + y = x3x2 − 10x − 20 5 T
2 CHAINES (5, 0) y2 = x3x2 + 16x − 180 2 H
3 TOUR JETE (−1, 1) y2 = x3 + x2x 6 E
4 PIROUETTE (−1, 2) y2 + xy + y = x3x2 − 3x + 3 7 T
5 WALTZ TURN (0, 1) y2 + y = x3 − 2x − 1 1 W
6 PIQUE TURN (7, 0) y2 = x3 + x2 − 36x − 140 2 I
(en tournant)
(0, −1) y2 + y = x3 + x2x 3 S
8 SOUTENU (2, 4) y2 = x3 + 4x 4 T

Those excellent dancers are Callie Norberg and Mae Chesney. Costumes by Rachel Petterson.