Portfolio Noah Vawter. Stratus Algorithm

A Simple Recursive Algorithm for Making Really Cool-Looking Patterns

A few years ago, during college, I was doing a co-op at Stratus Computer in Marlborough, Massachusetts. I was there to learn about Verilog, VHDL and the working world. It was also a terrific break from the stress of three years at WPI.

One day, during a meeting, I sketched some pictures into a graph paper engineering notebook. A few days later, I expanded the pattern on another page and filled it in with highlighter. It looked really cool! There was an actual thought going through my head as I made it: I wanted to see how just a few simple operations could build up a complex figure.

Each picture is described with a number that describes the operations necessary to create it. Each picture begins with a 2x2 grid, which gets copied 3 times to form a 4x4 grid. Every iteration doubles the width and height. As the previous generation is copied, it gets rotate either 0, 90, 180 or 270 degrees. Optionally, it can be mirror-flipped, too.

I had mostly forgotten about it until a few months ago when I moved and found the original blue and green picture on light yellow paper with dark green quad ruling. After hanging up the torn-out page on my apartment wall, and re-considering it, I decided many more similar patterns can be produced. So, I coded up a version of the algorithm in perl, and now I've got hundreds of pictures from it!

Since there are so many different pictures, I can't possibly talk about all of them, but I'd like to comment on a few of them and leave you with a link to a directory that has many more for you to explore. And remember, when fashionable ladies are wearing this on their skirts in a few decades, you saw the patterns here first!!

Here it is...the first pattern I drew in my notebook so many years ago:

Now, let's examine some variations. This one is some kind of maze-thing.

This is an awesome-looking maze-thing. Notice how the white background connects all parts of the picture

Yup, some patterns come out nice and boring!

I LOVE this one! it's got these big, funky-looking 70's type blocks to it!

Alright, this one is a variation of my original pattern, with a high degree of symmetry. Notice, too, how most of it is all connected.

oh my! changing a few parameters has turned it into a field of flowers!

Yet another version of my original pattern. Exhibits a different type of symmetry, again, connected.

This variation on the original is awesome...or maybe it's just the inverse???

I love this variation! It has expanded versions of the "King Tut" and "deformed Ninja star" patterns that I liked so much on the original graphic.

Another maze-thing.

Ah, yes! The Berzerk maze of Ninja stars!

And who could forget the Mah Johng Table!

Here! One of my all-time favorites! To me, it looks like little fetuses inside wombs! See how some are twins! There are also quadruplets, and single babies. Notice too, the lack of periodicity, resembling a Penrose tiling.

You gotta love this one, just because it's so...ummm...Square!

The complete image directory Image Directory Here


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