Thursday, July 07, 2005

Context Free Art

I'm entranced by this thing -- it's a context free grammar language and rendering environment for fractal-style art. It was inspired by the fake CS paper generator that used a small CFG (SCIgen) which was well-blogged. It's downright ingenious; I've been around context free grammars and text generation since my baby linguist days, but never seen them applied to making visuals.

context free tree picture

The language itself is a little bit like LOGO, which may or may not work for you (I want to read it like Prolog, alas). The app has a surprisingly elegant UI for grad student freeware, which makes it easy to play with the rules for generating the art and see immediate results from tinkering. It includes lots of examples along with a commented Lesson file.

Get it here: Context Free.

3 comments :

Erik said...

I wonder if the Chris Coyne who did the underlying grammar work is the one from my accelerated algebra class in junior high. Probably not. Or was that Chris Coyle?

Lynn said...

Could be... I have this strong urge to meet these guys -- they're MIT and Harvard folks. Also, I got stupidly entranced in their singles site last night, just because I was curious how a bunch of math students would make a dating service. Eh.

steve said...

The mention of generated art and a dating service brings some strange memories. At the risk of being a bit too random ...

Physicists (I happen to be one of that species) often are reasonably decoupled with matters of the heart. During my thesis experiment (a particle physics experiment that investigated the semileptonic production of matter with charmed quarks) the overwhelming beauty of some of the collisions completely captivated me.

There was a collision every 3 seconds for about a year and the really interesting stuff was filtered out by hardware triggers and lots of computational analysis. I spent some time trying to categorize interactions that were beautiful to my eye and built a trigger to capture some with computational post processing to get a sample of a few hundred really beautiful collisions in three space as well as some interesting projections that happened to be "beautiful"

The goal of this was to impress a female friend who wasn't taken with them

sigh

More than a few physicists liked them and I made some quality drawings from the data (I'm old enough that printers weren't up to the take back then -- all of us were too busy fighting the dinosaurs that roamed Brookhaven and Palo Alto).

Sadly all of this was destroyed a few years ago when our hot water heater had a catastrophic failure.

but they were really beautiful!