Posts Tagged ‘Sequence of Circuits’

There are sets of four labyrinths each, from which the labyrinths are in a complementary or dual relationship with each other. This is also expressed in their sequences of circuits. If we write down the sequences of circuits of complementary labyrinths below each other, they add up at each position to One greater than the number of circuits. In fig. 1 I show what this means.

Figure 1. Sequences of Circuits in Complementary Labyrinths

First we write down the sequence of circuits for each of the four patterns. The patterns in the same column are complementary. Next we extract the sequences of circuits of dual labyrinths 2 and 4 and in the line below write the sequences of circuits of dual labyrinths 7 and 5. Now we can add the numbers below each other and will find that at each position they sum up to 6. This is 1 greater than the number of 5 circuits.

Now there is another relationship between the sequences of circuits. This is illustrated in figure 2.

Figure 2. Sequences of Circuits in Dual-Complementary Labyrinths

The sequences of circuits of the dual-complementary labyrinths are mirror-symmetric. Thus, in this case, the labyrinths that are in a diagonal relationship to each other are considered. Labyrinth 5 is the complementary of the dual (4) and the dual of the complementary (7), respectively, i.e. the dual-complementary to labyrinth 2. This connection is highlighted by a black line with square line ends. The sequences of circuits of these labyrinths are also written in black color. If we write the sequence of circuits of labyrinth 2 in reverse order this results in the sequence of circuits of labyrinth 5 and vice versa (black sequences of circuits).
Labyrinth 7 is the complementary of the dual (2) and the dual of the complementary (5), i.e. the dual-complementary to labyrinth 4. This is highlighted by a grey line with bullet line ends. The sequences of circuits of these labyrinths are also written in grey. Also in this case it is true: the sequence of circuits of labyrinth 4 written in reverse order corresponds with the sequence of circuits of labyrinth 7 and vice versa.

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The notation with the coordinates is consistent, understandable and works well in one- and multiple-arm, alternating and non-alternating labyrinths. However, for a labyrinth with three circuits, at least 6 segments are needed (in one- and two-arm labyrinths: number of circuits times two, in all other labyrinths: number of segments times number of arms).

Correspondingly, the sequences of segments rapidly increase in their length with the size of the labyrinth. The Chartres type labyrinth e.g. has 44 segments, as have all other types of labyrinths with 4 arms and 11 circuits.



Here I present the sequence of segments of the Chartres type labyrinth for illustration. This is:

Nevertheless this sequence of segments is a well understandable instruction of how to draw the labyrinth. It reads about like this: Go first to the fifth circuit, walk along the first segment (5.1), then proceed to the 6. circuit and stay in the first segment (6.1). Next, go to the 11th circuit in the first segment (11.1) continue on the same circuit to the 2nd segment (11.2), skip then to the 10th circuit in the 2nd segment (10.2) asf. This also implies that from each coordinate subsequent to the previous it becomes clear, whether the path makes a turn (as from coordinate 5.1 to 6.1) or if it traverses the arm (such as from 11.1 to 11.2). However it is a long and complex series of numbers.

Now there are also various other possibilities to write notations for multiple-arm labyrinths that may have less digits. In any case, the labyrinths first have to be notionally partitiond into segments. However in some notations it is possible to combine multiple segments in one term. I will illustrate this here with the example of a notation for the Chartres labyrinth by Hébert°.


This is a notation comparable with the one presented in the post „Circuits and Segments“, where the segments had been numbered by circuits. In this case, if the pathway passes through multiple segments on the same circuit, the number of the circuit was repeated accoridingly. This, for the labyrinth of Chartres would result in 44 numbers. In the notation by Hébert the length of the sequence reduces to 31 numbers. However, each number must now be written with a prefix. For instance, „-“ indicates, that the following number is written only once, as the path traverses only one segment. A prefix „+“, on the other hand, indicates that the following number would have to be written twice as the path passes two subsequent segments. Thus, different prefixes have to be taken into account. And two prefixes will not be sufficient. Additional prefixes will be required to capture the pathway passing through three, four or more subsequent segments, or to indicate that the arm is traversed whilst the path skips onto another circuit. So while this notation is shorter it is also more difficult to apply. Furthermore it is subject to the weakness already discussed earlier, that, althoug it indicates the circuit, it does not indicate the segment actually covered by the pathway.

Other notations exist as well. I do not address this further here. It should have become clear that the sequences of segments in multiple-arm labyrinths rapidly increase in length and complexity. In most types of such labyrinths the sequence of segments is therefore not suited for giving a name. Just try to imagine to name the labyrinth I had shown in January with its sequence of segments. This labyrinth has 12 arms and 23 circuits and thus 276 segments.



I abstain here from writing down the sequence of segments of this labyrinth. It would fill some 14 – 15 lines.


To conclude, I want to come back to the original question whether the sequence of circuits can be used for giving names to the different types of labyrinths. I had two concerns about this:

  • First, in one-arm labyrinths this sequence was not unique. However this problem could be easily solved by adding a prefix „-“ only to those numbers of circuits where the pathway traverses the axis. Therefore in not too large types of one-arm labyrinths the sequence of circuits can be used for naming.
  • Second, in multiple-arm labyrinths the sequence will rapidly increase in length. It turned out that in these labyrinths the sequence of segments has to be considered and that this usually becomes either be too long or too complex or both. Therefore I consider it not suited for giving name in multiple-arm labyrinths.

° Hébert J. A Mathematical Notation for Medieval Labyrinths. Caerdroia 2004; 34: 37-43.

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With the coordinates for segments from the last post (see related posts below) we have now found an understandable notation for the sequence of segments of labyrinths. Here it seems important to me to add that such coordinates can also be used for one-arm labyrinths. I will show this with the examples for which I had already shown the sequences of circuits (see related posts). For this, each circuit has to be divided into two segments.

Partitioning of Circuits in Segments

Next we write the sequences of segments for the three examples and also compare them straightaway with their sequences of circuits.



A unique notation for one-arm labyrinths can also be achieved, if we can write two different numbers on the same circuit, one for each side of the axis. For this, the circuits have to be partitioned into two segments. This allows us to write unique sequences of segments for alternating and non-alternating labyrinths. Also it is possible to use the same form of notation in one-arm and multiple-arm labyrinths. However, this notation will always need 14 coordinates for each one-arm labyrinth with 7 circuits. This is clearly more digits than are needed for the sequences of cirucits with separators.



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At the end of the last post (see related posts) we were left with the following problem. If we number the segments consecutively, we obtain a unique seqence of segments. However it can not be directly seen in the sequence of segments which circuit is encountered by the pathway. If we number the segments by circuits, the sequence does indicate which circuit is encountered. However it then looses the uniqueness.

Now there is a possibility to combine the numbering. That means to write a number for the circuit first, then a separator and then a number for the segment. In the example of the labyrinth by Valturius this looks as follows (fig. 1).


Figure 1. Numbering by Circuits and Segments


The labyrinth has four circuits and three arms, and thus also three segments per circuit. The first number indicates the circuit, the second indicates the segment. This numbering provides some kind of coordinates for the various segments.

Let us now write the sequences of segments for the alternating and non-alternating labyrinths from the last post using this numbering.


Figure 2. Sequences of Segments of the Alternating and Non-alternating Variants

Both variants have their own unique sequences of segments. In each element of the sequence of segments it can be identified which circuit and which segment is encountered by the path. Such a sequence of segments can be easily generated and memorized. A shortcoming of this numbering is that each element is composed of two figures and a separator. Furthermore the elements must be clearly separated from each other. Therefore this sequence of numbers requires more digits and more space.

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In my last post I have shown the sequence of segments in labyrinths with multiple arms. This is unambigous. But as a disadvantage it does not indicate directly which circuit is encountered by the pathway.

Now it is also possible to keep the partition in segments but only number the circuits. This allows to indicate directly in the sequence of segments, which circuit is visited by the pathway. Thus the same number may repeatedly occur in this sequence. This works well in many cases but may also leed to problems. In the labyrinth I had shown in my last post the problem does not occur. Therefore I will illustrate it here with an other example. For this I chose the labyrinth by Valturius as this is a small, understandable example (Fig. 1).


Figure 1. Labyrinth by Valturius. Source: Kern 2000, fig. 315, p. 179.

This labyrinth from a military manuscript by Robertus Valturius of the 15th century has three arms and four circuits. (Please note, that the arms are not proportionally distributed. This, however, has no influence here. I therefore use a proportional distribution for reasons of simplicity.)


Figure 2. Numbering of the Segmente: Left Image by Segment, Right Image by Circuit

Figure 2 shows in the left image the partition and numbering by segments I had already used in my last post. The right Image shows the same partition of segments although numbered by circuits only. As the labyrinth has four circuits, there are 12 segments.

The labyrinth by Valturius is alternating. However there exists a non-alternating labyrinth with the same level sequence. And this brings us back to the problem.


Figure 3. Sequences of Segments Numbered by Segments

Figure 3 shows the alternating labyrinth by Valturius (left image) and the non-alternating variation (right image). They show two different courses of the pathway. These are also correctly represented by the two different sequences of segments. Both sequences of segments are similar for the first 9 segments: 1 4 7 8 5 2 3 6 9 … The sequences of the three last segments, however, are different. In the labyrinth by Valturius the sequence continues with segments ……… 12 11 10. On the other hand, the sequence of segments in the non-alternating variation is ……… 10 11 12.

If, however, we number the segments by circuits, we lose the uniqueness.


Figure 4. Sequences of Segments Numbered by Circuits

Figure 4 shows the same labyrinths as fig. 3. But with their segments numbered by circuits. Both variants have the same sequence of segments 1 2 3 3 2 1 1 2 3 4 4 4. So here we can always identify in the sequence of segments, which circuit is encountered by the pathway. However, for the same sequence of segments there may exist multiple (in this case two) different courses of the pathway. The same problem occured already in the level sequence of one-arm labyrinths.

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