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Mathematics 309 - Spring 2001

This term the principal mathematical topic will be conic sections, including related topics such as planetary motion, perspective, and spherical geometry. In addition, the course will present a self-contained introduction to techniques of mathematical illustration, through use of the programming language PostScript.

Students will receive computer accounts on the Mathematics Department computer network, but they may also choose to work primarily at home.


You can obtain a full manual for using PostScript in mathematical illustration at


In time these notes will probably be updated especially for this course. The complete official reference manual for the most recent version of PostScript can be found at


but this is extremely technical as well as overwhelming in size, and you shouldn't need to refer to it.

GhostScript, a good working interpreter for PostScript, may be obtained without cost over the Internet from the Aladdin home page for GhostScript


You should also obtain from the same site the interactive previewer, which is called GhostView or GSView, depending on your operating system. These programs are essentially the ones installed on the department network, and you should be able to work on both systems by mailing files back and forth. A group of UBC Computer Science students have put these programs, among others, on a CD which may still be for sale on campus (at CopyRight in the basement of SUB) at a nominal fee.


For starters, here are some notes from a previous year (you will need Acrobat reader to look at these):


Sample programs

Three dimensional stuff

  • The basic inclusion file: ps3d.inc. This should be run in any program doing three dimensional drawing. A sample file which uses it: cube.ps. This in turn has to include the data file cube.inc.
  • A live version of the cube drawing.

Student projects

Every student in the course was expected to turn in a project involving mathematical graphics that could be posted immediately on the Internet. The results can be found on the page projects.html.