Islamic artists were exploiting a mathematical principle to decorate buildings with complicated patterns of tiles more than 500 years before its discovery in the West.

The decorative tilework that adorns some medieval Islamic buildings has been found to use basic geometric shapes that form a complex and highly intricate tiling pattern which does not repeat itself.

In modern mathematics the principle of non-repeating patterns on a flat surface is known as quasicrystal geometry, and the most famous example is known as Penrose tiling, after the Oxford mathematician Roger Penrose, who was thought to have discovered it 30 years ago.

However, two American mathematicians believe that near-perfect quasicrystal geometry was used by Islamic scholars earlier than the 15th century to decorate the walls of important buildings.

The original work can be found on one of author's, Peter J. Lu's web page.

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