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math

Escher-like Spiral Tilings

The artist M.C. Escher drew many lovely tilings, which he called “regular divisions of the plane”. He worked hard to ensure that his tilings were of lifelike animal forms such as birds and fish. He filled notebooks with hand-drawn sketches of tilings, many of which later found their way into …

The Tactile libraries

I developed a new open-source software library for manipulating isohedral tilings, based on the work I did on this topic during my PhD. The library is available in C++ and Javascript, and I offer a few fun automated and interactive demo programs that anybody can use to play with isohedral tilings.

Heesch Numbers, Part 2: Polyforms

In the first post in this series, I introduced the concept of a shape’s Heesch number. In brief, if a shape doesn’t tile the plane, its Heesch number is a measure of the maximum number of times you can surround the shape with layers of copies of itself. (Shapes that do …

Heesch numbers, Part 1

I love tiling theory. It’s a branch of mathematics that brings together many beautiful ideas, and that offers a lot of open questions for exploration. And of course, it gives us tools to apply mathematics in the world of art and design. Normally, in my research as a computer scientist …

Arctic Monkeys Simulator

This term, I’m once again teaching CS 106, a second-level introductory programming course with a focus on art and data visualization. The course is taught using Processing, which provides a fun and accessible (though flawed) environment for art-focused novice programmers. The most recent lecture includes a discussion on drawing graphs, and …

Shad Valley 2016

In 1989 I attended Shad Valley, a one-month Canadian summer program for high school students. I spent a month living on the UBC campus. Basically it was Nerd Camp, though perhaps with a more diverse range of interests and talents than you might expect from the nerd stereotype, and with …

A new near miss

The photo above is a paper model of a polyhedron that I just assembled. The model consists of four dodecagons (12-sided regular polygons) and 12 decagons (10-sided regular polygons). The holes are 28 equilateral triangles that in theory could be filled with more paper. This polyhedron has a few symmetries, …