Research mathematics is seldom directly applicable, but the questions we study are motivated by interplay with contemporary demands. As a combinatorialist, it's apparent that my field has benefited immensely from the demands modern computing makes on mathematics. Prior to this development, combinatorics had applications (especially to statistics and probability) but did not enjoy as central a role as it occupies today.
When I look to earlier technologies, it seems to me that automated loom devices such as the Jacquard loom ought to also rely in a critical way on combinatorial constructions. My understanding of the history of combinatorics comes from textbooks in the field as opposed to primary sources or the history of mathematics literature. However, I've never seen any mention of looms as a precursor to some modern theory.
Question: Is there any work in the mathematics history literature exploring the connection of automated looms to mathematics? In particular, I'd like to understand if there is any work related to combinatorics.
As some examples of what I'm hoping for, it seems plausible that the interesting classes of patterns were classified at some point. Presumably these results could be translated to precise combinatorial statements. Additionally, the the physical constraints of such a technology likely would lead to constraints on the types of instructions allowed. For example, if blue, red and green strands of thread are being incorporated into the cloth perhaps one cannot have blue then green then blue then red due to some physical shortcoming of the loom itself. One might also expect certain types of errors to occur, which would motivate some form of error correction for instructions, which could likely be interpreted mathematically.