Math + Making

A student blog for Math 189AH: Making Mathematics at Harvey Mudd College

Making Math(with)us

Mathus Leungpathomaram

Over the course of the semester, I made some various things!

Project 3: Light show!

We took in an audio file / live audio as input and created an LED light show! Above is a preview of the computed colors for each light, and below is the LED lights in action!

Project 2: Modular origami

We made some modular origami! Above are two of the things I made, each of which taking 6 pieces of paper. The top one was quite difficult to put together at the end, given how much tucking of layers there needed to be.

Project 1: Probabilistic Bracelet Making

We used a program I wrote to generate bracelet bead colorings based off of various probability distributions and made bracelets out of them!

Project 0: Surface Minimizing Bubbles and Minimal Penrose Tilings

The first image featured us making a polyhedron frame out of zometools then dipping the resulting structure in soapy water creating a surface minimizing bubble. The second image was the result of making a penrose tiling out of flower leaves and flower petals.


Bracelet making materials (Project 1) [New]
Flower parts (Project 0) [New]
HMC Machine shop (Project 1) [New]
LEDs (Project 3) [New]
Origami (Project 2)
Python + some libraries I haven’t used before (Project 3)
Zometools (Project 0) [New]

I did not realize how much of what I did was new technology! This is probably due to the last two projects feeling more familiar, but I felt like I could achieve more with familiar mediums than unfamiliar ones. Perhaps this suggests the projects to go for would be ones which have a larger old technology component with a smaller new technology component.


Graph Coloring (Project 2)
Fourier Transforms (Project 3)
Fractals / Tilings (Project 0)
Minimal Surfaces (Project 0)
Probability Distributions (Project 1)
Signal Processing (Project 3)

Most of the projects only touch the math at a very surface level, which makes sense given the short nature of each one. For instance, if we had much more time, Project 3 would most likely try to follow through a complex signal processing chain to do advanced beat detection logic.

The future…

I want to continue doing audio/visual related things! I can use Project 3’s code as a starting point, and perhaps even combine it with music I make in the future too. I could even use some ideas from Mehak’s Musical Integer Sequences project to make the audio input auto-generated too. Or I could expand the show to multiple dimensions with something similar to what Nora’s Audio Responsive Visuals project. Or… something else? We can just look outside and probably find inspiration if we think for long enough.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to revisit some old ideas of mine. I remember in high school I had much more time to just mess around and make random stuff, such as minimum spanning tree screensavers, and am glad that I could end my time in college on a similar creative note. I’d like to thank Prof. Kagey for providing the space and support for all of us, and I’d also like to thank my project partners for the cool creations we made together, and classmates for all the great ideas I’ve gotten to see. I hope we all get the tools and the space to keep exercising our creativity.


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