A Mathematical Exploration of Poi 

Pi James and Dr. Ivona Grzegorczyk 


A weight, a leash, and a handle.

These are the three main components of an artist’s poi.  During performance, the weight is often a ball of fire or a dazzling LED device. Holding onto the handle that is attached to the weight by the leash, the poi artist spins the weight in elegant, beautiful, and awe-inspiring patterns.

These patterns are largely based on circular motion and thus are inherently mathematical. In fact, with a high degree of accuracy, the patterns can be represented using a combination of vectors and parametric equations. With the knowledge that can be gained from the mathematical study of this motion, exciting advances can be made in the art of poi, particularly in the LED context. Visual Poi, a specific kind of LED-based poi, can create highly detailed images in the air.  A more detailed understanding of their motion will enable the creation of a computer program that can account for the motion of the poi and produce images unlike anything that can be done presently.

It is the intention of this research project to deeply explore the mathematics poi motion and create this accompanying image producing computer program.


Session 3 – 4:30p.m. – 5:45p.m.

Room D – Sierra 2422

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