Erik D. Demaine  

Erik D. Demaine is Associate Professor and Esther and Harold E. Edgerton Professor in computer science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Demaine's research interests range throughout algorithms, from data structures for improving web searches to the geometry of understanding how proteins fold to the computational difficulty of playing games. He received a MacArthur Fellowship (2003) as a "computational geometer tackling and solving difficult problems related to folding and bending - moving readily between the theoretical and the playful, with a keen eye to revealing the former in the latter". He recently published a book about folding, together with Joseph O'Rourke, called Geometric Folding Algorithms: Linkages, Origami, Polyhedra, (Cambridge University Press, 2007). He has also coedited Tribute to a Mathemagician (A. K. Peters, 2003), in honor of the influential mathemagician Martin Gardner. His interests also span the connections between mathematics and art, particularly sculpture and performance, including curved origami sculptures currently on display at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Origami, Linkages, and Polyhedra: Folding with Algorithms (abstract)

What forms of origami can be designed automatically by algorithms? How might we build reconfigurable robots like Transformers or Terminator 3, hinging together a collection of pieces that dynamically reconfigure into arbitrary shapes? When can a robotic arm of rigid rods be folded into a desired configuration? What shapes can result by folding a piece of paper flat and making one complete straight cut? What 3D surfaces can be manufactured from a single sheet of material? How might proteins fold? Geometric folding is a branch of discrete and computational geometry that addresses these and many other intriguing questions. I will give a taste of the many results that have been proved in the past several years, as well as the several exciting unsolved problems that remain open. Many folding problems have applications in areas including manufacturing, robotics, graphics, and protein folding.

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