Mathematical graphics

The MSRI Summer School - Reed College, July 13 - July 26, 2003

The problem: how to produce mathematical images?

The solutions:

Other themes

Mathematics and art are strongly related, most recently in the art of M. C. Escher (De Smit).

Mathematics is heavily involved in the production of good graphics (Fix).

Technology is indispensable, but style is also crucial to efficient utilization of graphics. Furthermore, good use of graphics in the exposition of mathematics makes mathematics available to a larger audience. (Saint-Aubin)


First week: Second week:



  • Bill Casselman received his degree at Princeton University in 1967. His current fields of research are automorphic forms and Coxeter groups. He is also the editor of the NOTICES of the American Mathematical Society responsible for covers and, occasionally, other graphics.
  • David Austin received his degree from the University of Utah, working in topology. He is currently at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan.
  • Bart de Smit received his PhD in mathematics in Berkeley in 1993. Since 1997 he has been a mathematician at the Universiteit Leiden in the Netherlands, primarily working in number theory.
  • John M. Sullivan is a professor of mathematics at the Technical University of Berlin and at the University of Illinois. He received his PhD from Princeton in 1990, after earlier degrees from Harvard and Cambridge. Sullivan's research in geometry deals with finding optimal shapes for curves and surfaces in space. Examples include clusters of soap bubbles, which minimize their surface area, or knots tied tight in rope, which minimze their length. Sullivan has made extensive use of computer graphics to illustrate this work.
  • Jim Fix is currently a computer scientist in the mathematics department of at Reed College.
  • Richard Froese is currently at the University of British Columbia. His field of research is mathematical physics.
  • Jim Blinn is the well known author of a column in the IEEE journal on computer graphics, one with a definitely mathematical flavor. Many of his columns have been collected in books of interest to mathematicians. He is also largely reponsible for the technical aspects of the film project Mathematics! He is currently at Microsoft Research.
  • Yvan Saint-Aubin is currently the Head of the Department at the Université de Montréal. His field of research is statistical mechanics.