04 October 2013

Artist = Mathematician

In order to make pretty pictures there's a need to learn more math. It's all part of the process. That means I need to turn to my cohort-in-arms, Jürgen, for help. He does have some specialized knowledge in that field and does all that networking stuff for a living.

In programming languages there's often code to set a domain (finding the minimum and maximum numbers in a set) and the range (setting the upper and lower limit to display. In those fancy math terms it's called normalizing. i.e., your numbers range from 5 to 280 but you need to scale them from 0 to 10.

I know that the area of a circle is Area = PI * r2 and I needed it to scale up on a set of values for a table I'm building that will compare the physical sciences to their acoustic counterparts. There wasn't much math in art school. Well, there used to be no math in art school as it was mainly putting paint on canvas. But with the advent of all the programming that graphic designers are expected to do, math has become a much larger subject. But that's a different story.

Anyway, the maths I didn't have was converting that to scaling areas. So Jürgen, being the helpful genius he is, quickly gave me the needed maths for Excel in = SQRT(A1 / PI()). Nice! Now all my values scale up properly.

And why do I need to do all this math stuff? Cause Illustrator doesn't really do that sort of thing (at least I don't think it has that capability). So when constructing networks and graphs in Illustrator it's necessary to manually size the circles to reflect the numbers in Excel.

If I could only get the hang of d3.js I could let that handle all the maths as it does contain a domain and range functionality...

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