Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Science

Computational Origami and David Huffman 122

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the everyone-likes-math dept.
geeber writes "Here is an article about David Huffman's work in the mathematics of computational origami at the New York Times (soul sucking registration required). According to the article, computational origami, "also known as technical folding, or origami sekkei, draws on fields that include computational geometry, number theory, coding theory and linear algebra." David Huffman is also the inventor of Huffman coding used in MP3s and was mentioned prieviously here."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Computational Origami and David Huffman

Comments Filter:
  • MP3s (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 22, 2004 @09:41AM (#9494191)
    David Huffman is also the inventor of Huffman coding used in MP3s...

    "Let's sue HIM too!!!" -RIAA

    • Re:MP3s (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      "Let's sue HIM too!!!" -RIAA

      No need to sue HIM, it will disappear as soon as teen goths grow older ;)
    • It would be quite hard to sue him, even for RIAA:
      Dr. Huffman died in 1999, but on a recent afternoon his daughter Elise Huffman showed a visitor a sampling of her father's enigmatic models.

      But hey, his daughter is still alive! So RIAA can sue her, she for sure has a lot of money to aid this poor organisation with!
      • But hey, his daughter is still alive! So RIAA can sue her, she for sure has a lot of money to aid this poor organisation with!

        Funny, but Huffman didn't capitalize on his encoding scheme--he was after all, a lowly graduate student when he developed it. Lucky for humanity that he didn't patent it, yes? Also, while Huffman encoding may be used in MP3, it is also used in nearly every compression scheme in use--so singling out MP3 is just a "me too" knee-jerk to try and capture eye-balls.

        Huffman compression

      • Just don't sue his nephew. I have a family to feed.
  • Are the purty pictures... Some of these origamis are incredibly beautiful. Does anybody know where to find other (high-res) pictures of them?
  • by gorim (700913) on Tuesday June 22, 2004 @09:41AM (#9494204)

    Huffman coding was one of the first codings used to compress data LONG LONG time ago, in a galaxy far far away where MP3's were billions of years yet to come in the future.

    It is real cool to see such pioneering people still involved in new things.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 22, 2004 @09:47AM (#9494264)
      Since he died in '99 he has become less involved.
      Also, origami is not actually a new thing.
      What Huffman was interested in was curved folds and stress points. Maybe it should be called Extreme Origami.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Huffman coding is a way of representing some stream of symbols using bits in the most optimal way possible.

      Essentially, it breaks down to using your bits in such a way that the most common symbols are represented by the fewest number of bits. The result is a prefix-free code, meaning that no string of bits that represents a symbol is part of the beginning of any other symbol. You'll never get both "01" and "010" representing something in a Huffman Code.

      A Huffman Code is optimal, meaning that it results in
      • Huffman coding is a way of representing some stream of symbols using bits in the most optimal way possible.
        Note that you must know beforehand the probability of each symbol (though there is a possibility of adaptive Huffmann encoding, but of course it's not optimal)
  • Mmmm.... Oragami (Score:5, Informative)

    by swordboy (472941) on Tuesday June 22, 2004 @09:42AM (#9494211) Journal
    Yamaha Paper Craft [yamaha-motor.co.jp]
  • by L3on (610722)
    If your into folding and you like SETI@Home checkout Stamfords Folding@Home, it's not oragami but instead something alot more useful: understanding protien folding. Check it out here: http://www.stanford.edu/group/pandegroup/folding/
  • Impressive... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Mz6 (741941) * on Tuesday June 22, 2004 @09:43AM (#9494231) Journal
    I wonder if he left behind any How-To's? Most of those were made from a single sheet of paper! I would lvoe to be able to do all of that stuff... very nice....

    So.. who knows how to actually do all of that?

    • They are indeed very impressive.


      It seems that people who suceed in one field can easily transfer their skills to another one - I know he used mathematics in his orgami, but to go to the detail of doing deriving mathematics for his hobby is very impressive.


      While how-tos for his orgami would be nice... I would prefer a how-to that gives drive and focus and ambition like that - something I seem to lack.

    • Re:Impressive... (Score:4, Informative)

      by BrownDwarf (615206) on Tuesday June 22, 2004 @09:52AM (#9494316)
      Check Amazon for the book mentioned in the article: Origami Design Secrets: Mathematical Methods There are some related titles that also look good.
    • Re:Impressive... (Score:4, Informative)

      by kzinti (9651) on Tuesday June 22, 2004 @01:05PM (#9496569) Homepage Journal
      This folding project is not a Huffman or Lang, and it's not as impressive as those pictured in the Times article, with their sweeping curves and elegant surfaces. However, it does have a small element of the amazing "How do you get paper to DO that" quality. Best of all, it's fairly easy to fold and to improvise upon. Enjoy:

      http://www.sgi.com/grafica/fold/page001.html
  • Non-Reg Link (Score:5, Informative)

    by swordboy (472941) on Tuesday June 22, 2004 @09:46AM (#9494256) Journal
  • by tikoloshe (515755) on Tuesday June 22, 2004 @09:46AM (#9494258)
    as /. performs computational origami on the server and fold it into a crumpled half-finished paper swan on the floor
    • Actually, I believe the NYT learned long ago to beef up their servers, since about 50% of slashdot stories link to them. I guess that just goes to show that the NYT actually has lots of stories that are of interest to geeks.
  • ...is in Mark Nelson's "The Data Compression Book" [dogma.net].

    What's especially nice is that the book walks you thru the various steps - minimum redundancy coding, adaptive huffman coding, arithmetic coding... so the improvements are introduced gradually and logically. Good stuff.
  • How many more slashdot frontpages before the NY times realise that by taking away registration, their advertising revenues will quintuple?

    Or maybe they don't care about revenues! Maybe they just want our DATA?!?

    Wait, wait.... sorry. It's the NEW YORK times! Silly me
    • Re:NY Times Reg (Score:2, Offtopic)

      by crmartin (98227)
      At the risk of slipping off topic, actually advertising doesn't really work that way. Advertisers want to target thir advertising, meaning they want to make sure the advertising is reaching the subset of people they want. (Old advertising axion: 90 percent of advertising is wasted; the problem is you don't know which 90 percent.)

      By using registration, the NYT has a basic demographic measure to show advertisers, one that even includes click-through from other sites; this makes page views ten or a hundred
  • It's great (Score:2, Insightful)

    by xenostar (746407)
    It's great to see someone so skillfully merge his knowledge of computer science and his appreciation for good aesthetics into such beautiful shapes. It seems many people who have an interest in programming and design try to merge these skills together, but more often than not the results are nothing but mindless attempts at combining the two just for the sake of it. It is good to see someone who has an real understanding of both and who can create meaningful examples of why each part is such a big part of t
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Be sure to join us next week as David Huffman invites us to take a peek into the exciting world of quantum flower arrangement. :p
    • > Be sure to join us next week as David Huffman invites us to take a peek into the exciting world of quantum flower arrangement. :p

      Quantum flower arrangement's out of the question, because due to observations taken in 1999, Dr. Huffman is no longer in a superposition of the "alive" and "dead" states.

      Then again, if anyone was capable of pressing his funereal flowers between sheets of paper in such a way that the state of said flowers would remain indeterminate for five years, Huffman's your guy :

  • Can we drop the lame "(soul sucking registration required)" comments everytime a NY Times or similiar news posting is displayed? Those who read here are quite knowledgeable in getting around the registration process; if not, someone's going to post a comment with a Google link within minutes of posting anyways.

    A simple "reg. req." is sufficient.
  • Origami as an Art (Score:5, Insightful)

    by artlu (265391) <artlu@artOOOlu.net minus threevowels> on Tuesday June 22, 2004 @09:54AM (#9494330) Homepage Journal
    It seems to me that this is just taking another piece of art and removing the uniqueness of it. By taking Origami to a technical level is similar to looking at computer generated images instead of works of art. Granted, the ideas that are being calculated are still unique, but the look and feel may not be.
    Aj

    GroupShares Inc. [groupshares.com] - An Interactive Stock Market Community. If you're a trader check it out.
    • by Jonboy X (319895)
      Bah, look at any of the great masters of art. There are two parts, really: the actual art/inspiration part and the craft/technique of rendering your ideas into a form that others will want to observe. Everyone gets inspired from time to time. The reason we're not all full-time artists is that it takes effort and dedication to get "good" at it.
    • Re:Origami as an Art (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Yeah. Since computers and math could never produce anything beautiful [swin.edu.au]
    • So, demonstrating that our aesthetic perception is intricately linked to mathematical beauty somehow diminishes the value of art? I don't think so.

      I think Huffman himself gave the best comment to this:
      "I don't claim to be an artist. I'm not even sure how to define art," he said. "But I find it natural that the elegant mathematical theorems associated with paper surfaces should lead to visual elegance as well."

    • by jotaeleemeese (303437) on Tuesday June 22, 2004 @11:46AM (#9495559) Homepage Journal
      Do you know how many hours do classical musicians practice per day their technique? Obviously not.

      Do you know how many hours do dancers practice their physical technoique? Certainly not.

      Do you know that many of the most insightful writers will be voraceous readers and will constantly refer to grammar books, dictionaries and other technical resources? It would seem you don't.

      Inspiration is frankly overrated, such point of view regarding "inspiration by the muses" so highly is a hangover of the XIX century romantic mentalitly, which of course forgot how the artists of that time worked uncountable hours to polish their technique.
    • It seems to me that this is just taking another piece of art and removing the uniqueness of it.

      So you're saying that by explaining the basis behind art (in this case the mathematics), the piece itself loses it's "artness"?

      And why would computer generated images not be considered art? Even if you're not talking about artist created, rendered images, but are solely targeting parameter based images, this doesn't work. I've seen art that is literally created by taping blasting cord to metal and setting

  • papercraft penguin ? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by blackest_k (761565) on Tuesday June 22, 2004 @09:58AM (#9494366) Homepage Journal
    Click here for a Penguin [yamaha-motor.co.jp] not as hard as David Huffmans designs but ideal for your linux box
  • by Curious__George (167596) on Tuesday June 22, 2004 @09:59AM (#9494377)
    I think it is intriguing that there is a correlation between "elegant mathematics" and visual elegance/beauty. Makes you think about some of the "big questions", doesn't it?

    The mathematician G. H. Hardy wrote that "there is no permanent place in the world for ugly mathematics." Dr. Huffman, who gave concrete form to beautiful mathematical relations, would no doubt have agreed. In a talk he gave at U.C. Santa Cruz in 1979 to an audience of artists and scientists, he noted that it was rare for the two groups to communicate with one another.


    "I don't claim to be an artist. I'm not even sure how to define art," he said. "But I find it natural that the elegant mathematical theorems associated with paper surfaces should lead to visual elegance as well."
    • Scientific American had an excelent article on the art Jackson Pollock: Order in Pollock's Chaos
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Look, when will you get it... God came up with a set of field equations he/she/it couldn't solve in closed form. Hence, he/she/it created a simulation to probe solution space. The particular incarnation we inhabit is a Monte Carlo simulation -- we just mis-interpret the random distributions as being consistent with some silly wave equation theory (quantum mechanics). Question is when will it be realized that there is a bug in the code and the simulation terminated?
      kill -9 universe_sim
    • I think it is intriguing that there is a correlation between "elegant mathematics" and visual elegance/beauty. Makes you think about some of the "big questions", doesn't it?

      Uh, not really. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, you know.

      It's seems to me quite natural that mathematical and artistical beauty are related - both are judged by what humans find beautiful. And as boring as it may sound, Symmetry for instance, is something which is appreciated as 'beautiful', and thus humans appreciate symmetry w
  • google link (Score:3, Informative)

    by xiopher (699208) on Tuesday June 22, 2004 @10:00AM (#9494385) Journal
    google link here [nytimes.com]
  • Origami Spacecraft (Score:5, Interesting)

    by G4from128k (686170) on Tuesday June 22, 2004 @10:17AM (#9494532)
    I've always liked the idea of using origami for spacecraft [space.com]. I can also envision universal constructor machines that convert asteroid materials into flat sheet and robotic systems that then fold long pieces of flat sheet stock into any shape that's needed (such as full size versions of these Star Wars spacecraft [happymagpie.com]).
  • by Katchina'404 (85738) on Tuesday June 22, 2004 @10:31AM (#9494682) Homepage
    What I find impressive is that people like Huffman are possibly defining new application fields for mathematics, maybe leading to new theories, all from (originally) a hobby.

    This reminds me of former mathematicians such as Euler and his Konigsberg bridges...
    • What I find impressive is that people like Huffman are possibly defining new application fields for mathematics, maybe leading to new theories, all from (originally) a hobby.

      This reminds me of former mathematicians such as Euler and his Konigsberg bridges...


      No fooling? Euler built the K. bridges? did he fold them out of origami paper?
  • ... used in MP3s? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by julesh (229690) on Tuesday June 22, 2004 @10:35AM (#9494727)
    [...] Huffman coding used in MP3s [...]

    Why does everything have to be compared to MP3s? Why couldn't it have been 'Huffman coding used in ZIP files' or '[...] used by GZip' or '[...] used by the huffyuv [google.com] lossless video codec' or any of about 5 million other applications that use huffman coding. Most of which are a lot more specific than MP3 which also uses a cocktail of other techniques to achieve compression and is, above all else, lossy, which huffman coding isn't.

    To be transmitted across the Internet, this message was broken down into bits, like MP3s are.
    • Because it makes it relatable to more people. If you are going to mention Neil Armstrong you would probably say "Neil Armstrong, first man on the moon" and not "Neil Armstrong, former professor at U of Cincinnati".

      If /. is about "Stuff that matters" then it makes sense for the blurb to mention stuff that matters to the greatest number of people.
    • Then maybe you can explain to me where Huffman coding is used in MP3s (and why)? As you point out, it's lossy. Why bother with a lossless compression technique in addition to lossy ones, when you could just use lossy all the way and probably get better results? Is it for the info tags or something?
  • by Artifakt (700173) on Tuesday June 22, 2004 @10:43AM (#9494785)
    As usual, several areas of math that are widely considered "pure" rather than "applied" turn out to have real world implications. The relationship of something as apparently trivial as folding paper to compressing and encoding data is a remarkable example of isomorphism in itself, beyond that:

    If you're funding education or pure research, you never know when something will unexpectedly prove useful, or even valuable.

    If you're the NSA, the RIAA, or any regulator you never know when or where the djinni will get out of the bottle.

    (Insert pithy saying about chinese ideograms for danger and opportunity being isomorphic)

  • David Huffman (Score:5, Informative)

    by AaronW (33736) on Tuesday June 22, 2004 @11:19AM (#9495203) Homepage
    I took a class taught by Professor Huffman at the University of California at Santa Cruz. He was an excellent teacher and really enjoyed teaching. The class, Introduction to Cybernetics, included Huffman coding and some basic neural network stuff, but never once did he call it Huffman Coding. One thing I remember from his class was we had to use a lot of logarithms and the results would have to be something like 5*log2(7) + log3(5). This ruled out using a calculator or a computer for the most part.

    He also frequently gave credit to Claude Shannon on information coding.

    Sadly (or fortunately) I avoided his other class, due to the fact that the failure rate was 60% for people taking the class for the second time. I think the first time takers failed at 90%.

    -Aaron
    • The class, Introduction to Cybernetics, included Huffman coding and some basic neural network stuff, but never once did he call it Huffman Coding.

      I imagine that him calling it "Huffman Coding" would be a bit like going to China and asking where to eat Chinese food.
      • I think Huffman was just being humble, hence he did not use his name for the coding.

        Re your Chinese food comment: in US asking where to eat American food would be a valid question, since "American" is one of restaurant categories. Check any business/restaurant locator (superpages.com f.ex.).
        • I think Huffman was just being humble, hence he did not use his name for the coding.

          I agree. I took a class from G. Blakely, author of the "Blakely secret-sharing scheme", which is what he called it in class. (Yes, I know, Shamir's idea is more well known, and Blakely definitely gave it props in his class.) That's not to say that Blakely wasn't humble, but rather to say that calling something after yourself isn't that weird, especially if that's what it's commonly called.

    • but never once did he call it Huffman Coding

      How about "me Coding"?
  • Over 20 years ago, while I was an undergrad at UC Santa Cruz ("Go Slugs!"), I had David Huffman for CIS (Computer and Information Sciences) 10, "Introduction to Cypernetics".

    This class covered a range of codes and encoding methods. We spent, surprise, some time on Huffman encoding, as well as covering Shannon's work.

    Huffman was a great professor, and even back then he was doing the Origami work and should it to us in class.

    Yours,

    Jordan
  • Another article (Score:2, Informative)

    by Ristoril (60165)
    There was also an article in Computer World Magazine, about Robert Lang's software [computerworld.com] that's being used to fold stuff from airbags to solar panels in spacecraft.
  • On the topic of origami, I'm currently interacting with one of the top twenty something origami designers in the US, and I must say that the art origami is much more beautiful and elegant than I expected.

    On the note of the origami folder, I said interacting with because he isn't a coworker.. He's a student at an academic camp I'm working at. I'd seriously suggest looking at his work, [bluegoo.net] or at least some specific amazing folds [bluegoo.net] that he's designed. The designs clearly have mathematical elements, and he current

It is impossible to enjoy idling thoroughly unless one has plenty of work to do. -- Jerome Klapka Jerome

Working...