Contour-Surface Drawings

Posted on February 6, 2007  Comments (0)

The Best Homework Ever?

Although the lecturer said he knew a great deal about this function from the point of view of calculus and linear algebra, he regretted that he could not visualize its geometric shape. I thought our graphics team could help him out. I telephoned my sophomore assistant, Ed Chang ’91, who rendered the surface on a computer using a contour-surface algorithm developed by Steve Ritter ’85 and Kevin Pickhardt ’85 in Professor Andries van Dam’s computer-graphics course. Thanks to overnight mail and one-hour film developing, we had slides of the surface in Berkeley in time for Professor Hirzebruch’s next lecture. He was delighted, and he has used our computer-graphics illustrations in his lectures and publications ever since.

This is not only the best freshman math homework I have ever received. I contend it is the best overnight homework any teacher has ever received in any course at any level at any place in any subject at any time, ever, ever, ever. That is an extreme claim, but I’m still waiting for another teacher to produce a worthy challenger.

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