The Thousands Of Ways To Tie A Tie

NPR's Scott Simon notes a mathematician has calculated that there are 177,147 ways to tie a tie.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Men's ties: Some people look at them around a man's neck and see some kind of fashion statement - stripes, solid, or dots, bow, four-in-hand, or Windsor knot? But Mikael Vejdemo-Johansson, a Swedish mathematician, sees more possibilities. He's told the ACM Symposium on Computational Geometry, which you'd think might have better things to do, that he's calculated that there are 177,147 ways to tie a tie. Previous researchers had said only 85 varieties of knots were possible. Did they lack silk or vision? Mr. Vejdemo-Johansson came up with multiple tucks and up to 11 winds to reach his expanded number. Some of them appear to be as intricate as instructions for open heart surgery. But would you like to actually wear most of his ties around your neck? The mathematician told New Scientist magazine: I have tried 10 or 20 of them and most of them to be quite honest look kind of awkward.

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