Archive for June 15th, 2010

The Math of the Stars and Stripes

by Katie Bowell, Curator of Cultural Interpretation

The "long star" configuration for a flag with 68 states

While Flag Day was technically yesterday, I thought you might all still be interested in the recent stars and stripes work of Dr. Skip Garibaldi, a professor of mathematics and computer science at Emory University.

Professor Garibaldi wrote a computer program that figures out all the possible star combinations for the American flag if new states are added. While we’ve been the 50 states since Hawaii joined the Union on August 21, 1959, there’s always a chance that number could change (see the Puerto Rico Democracy Act of 2010, which could open the door for statehood). Click here to see how our flag can change, from 1 star to 100, often with multiple star configuration options for each number. While Professor Garibaldi’s star configurations may be a solution for the future, also be sure to check out some of the early flag designs used in our country.


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