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Cont...
A Short PreHistory of Computer
Modeling
Longtime computer modeler Brian Barsky at the University of California,
Berkeley, explains, "The mathematics underlying modeling predates computers
themselves. In shipbuilding days of old, boat plans had to be drafted
full scale and limber pieces of wood, called splines, were used to design
the curves necessary for efficient hydrodynamics. As mathematicians began
the study of more complex curves and surfaces, the term spline became
used for the mathematical representation of a shape."
Modeling has a twofold meaning in computer
graphics, depending on whether your emphasis is on computers or
graphics.
Barsky continues, "In France in the 60's, Pierre Bezier, a toolsetter
at Renault, and Paul de Castlejau, a researcher at Citroen, working independently
both developed related methods of describing curves and surfaces. Robin
Forrest reformulated Bezier's method and constructed the approach that
we refer to today as Bezier curves and surfaces. Around the same time,
Steve Coons published a technical report at MIT, familiarly known as the
'The Little Red Book' because of its cover, and thus computer aided geometric
design and modeling was born." Modeling has a twofold meaning in computer
graphics, depending on whether your emphasis is on computers or
graphics. On the graphics side is the artistic definition of modeling,
building up a form from smaller pieces, such as combining a sphere and
a column and a cone to make a teapot or a spaceship. Think Tinker Toys
or Legos. On the computer side is the mathemagic required to manipulate
all those thousands of points making up that teapot or flying saucer.
Think bicubic parameters and Bspline surfaces. And from this dichotomy
of artist versus engineer comes a diversity of progress in modeling.
