Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Curves and Mythology

When asked to speak to our exit from the universe of faith into the age of enlightenment I once heard the California Poet, Gary Snyder say, "Who among us can explain how a telephone works?  We take that on faith right?"

In this way it can be said that mythology is alive and well...even in an age of "reason."

Similarly, when I find myself at work doing CADD drafting and I reach for the B Spline tool (the one that makes all the pretty smooth curves) I have often wondered exactly what it is I'm doing.  This tool, and the math associated with it, is the backbone of virtually every graphic application that does curves today.

What math is transpiring here?  It is interesting to note that you can't really make a circle with the B Spline tool without a lot of massaging.  Clearly, there are limitations that, as users of CADD software, we are confined by willingly the same way Frank Lloyd Wright frequently used multiples of a 30 degree angle because this was what his triangle possessed.  It is worth being conscious of this if one is a citizen of this CADD craft and for this reason I would recommend interested parties check out this link or this one.

Particularly the last link has a wonderfully intuitive illustration of how a B Spline is generated.

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