Computing With Art - Computerphile
Computing with art

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After a recent collaboration with an artist, Professor Moriarty is exploring whether the physics within patterns and art can be exploited for computation. Full simulation (see how badly this compresses!): Sixty Symbols on Gold Nanoparticles : More from Professor Moriarty on this: This video was filmed and edited by Sean Riley. Computer Science at the University of Nottingham: Computerphile is a sister project to Brady Haran's Numberphile. More at


Elliot Grey : Numberphile + Sixty Symbols + Computerphile = a more ambitious crossover than Infinity War

Aadit Doshi : A video on shaders would be pretty cool. It's about programming materials and effects. They use a lot of cool tricks.

BaronSloth : The School map is Loudoun County in Northern Virginia.

arcanics1971 : Brady's channels are leaking into one another!

TiagoTiago : I had assumed this was gonna be about doing computation with tiles... (look up "Ghost Diagrams")

blomeup2day : It would seem this would be more of making art out of computing than vice versa. You are dictating the spaces for the art based on the computation. You manipulated the surface based on computation instead of achieving any data from random art that would be useful in any possible way. Then the question becomes why even involve art when it’s not necessary for computation?

HIRAK MONDAL : It's in those interdisciplinary areas that the low hanging fruits are lying.. :)

Vladimir Lemon : There exists an esoteric programming language called Piet that uses art to compute.

David Fisher : Nature creates cells that assign areas to nearest point. Voronoi invents an algorithm to reproduce that. Physicist is impressed by nature's ability to reproduce the algorithm that reproduces nature? Can it compute? No, it just grows/shrinks. What question can it answer other than the one it embodies?

Alwin Mao : A lot of comments disparage the examples shown in the video but the point isnt the specific examples but rather the way of thinking. Can we use beautiful behaviors in nature, capture them, and by analogy solve problems? Spaghetti sort. Light bulbs as the earliest nbody gravity solvers. Slimes growing to resemble highways. beauty as function in the animal world helps us optimize shapes for flight and flow. Analog computers or mechanisms that can do more. Can we use bacteria to compute, using their DNA? Can we use the physics of quantum mechanics to do problem X? The point is that we can use other disciplines to help us understand computable problems or in rare cases to do the computation more cheaply. This is most useful for problems we dont know how to do well, like factoring or protein folding, and esp. useful for thinking about problems that people havent even started to imagine using a computer for, because it would be too hard. Some leeway needs to be given to account for what the video leads to but is very difficult to imagine.

Ryan Roberson : this comes out shortly after news that analogue computing is about to make a comeback using photonic reflection patterns to solve calculus

Manuel Pena : yo cheated a little bit? a little bit??? really?? xD

Gabriel Schneider : This blew my mind.

Ricardo Cruz : This was pretty cool! :)

Pooya : Although this was more of a Numberphile, I really enjoyed!

Phil Pan : Voronoi tessellation, but also Reaction-Diffusion systems

Unpronouncable : Okay how do you control it? This technique is not going to help divide school map fairly if the pattern generated is random. Lets call the nano-particle suspension "public bitmap Tessellation_function(point[] a)" based on this video the function returns a bitmap with tessellation but has no inputs and it should have an array of points as input to be useful. also the function is unstable for few points. lets say I put an array of 1 on the surface there will be other cells generated around that point and the final image will be not what is expected. If my function returns 10 regions when I declared 3 points that kind of tessellation function is useless to me.

Rickey Bowers : Making smaller substrate features in the production of microprocessors might benefit from a similar technique - lithography creates patterns at one scales, while physical computational processes modify that structure to produce complex structure at a lower scale. Some work has been done in this area with high power lasers, but there are many possibilities.

S S : Reminds me of some of the work of Alan Schoen when he was using soapy water to find minimal surface shapes. Also reminds me of a study I saw not too long ago about coffee nanoparticles and the way they dry at the bottom of a mug.

Matthew Jenkinson : Ah thought it would be about Voronoi when I saw that thumbnail. Interesting to know more about it.

Luiz Soranco de Paula Sarchis : Sorry to be close-minded but...I don't get it...this voronoi tessellation seems to be already solved by our algorithms...why have the trouble of dealing with nanoparticles and solvents and whatnot to do a "physical computation" of something that is already computed? Maybe a little motivation with some other idea that would solve a "hard" computational problem physically could be nice

Cowboy Frank's Personal Videos : Kind of hints along the lines of analogue computing.

ardenthebibliophile : Could you do this on a larger scale (e.g. 1ft square) by applying point sources of heat the a thin metal sheet with a liquid suspension on it?

Gijs van Dam : "a cow is a large sphere, pi is around 3" Did I hear that correctly?

YaramazGT : c or c++

FrostBird347 : 999 likes

Daan Janssen : 2:48 at first I was like 'what on earth are skewls?'

Noah Jalbuena-Cook : love this!

Penny Lane : But if it's so straightforward to compute those tessellations, how would setting up such a physical computation ever be advantageous?

Nom DeMorte : Thumbnail looks like Raven Kwok was here.

HardWankinMan : 7:30 rubedo! scrying with shew(show?)water, next we know you make a channel for Sorcery too!

LapTop006 : I thought this was going to be on McMillen's SIGBOVIK 2019 paper "93% of Paint Splatters are Valid Perl Programs"

Kyle Buchanan : Seems to me if they made the surface as uniform as possible and then pulsed a laser on the specific points that the evaporation would then happen where they want.

OrangeC7 : So, is the point that we may end up solving a computational problem (like P vs NP) not through a clever algorithm, but through a clever physical process?

Burueana George-Gabriel : Computing something is doing something.

Tyler Jackson : What is the time complexity of performing the tessellation? If we consider this physical process as a single step of computing (albeit a slow one) can we solve any NP problems in polynomial time?

Physics&Math : 4:13 Bernoulli zone

Ari Rahikkala : Scott Aaronson's "NP-complete Problems and Physical Reality" is a great way to get into more depth on this subject. Actually, I'd love to see the soap bubble experiment on the channel, I'm not sure I've ever seen it actually done on video. I mean, not that that's the important part, but it would be cool to see anyway.

Jan Peter Tamminga : I honestly don't know what is a skurl? ( what does he say anyway?)

Chris W : Since the artist relied on physics to make the pattern, if the art is used to compute, then physics is used to compute. That is not surprising since physics is generally described with math.

SimbosanYT : I would have thought soap bubbles be easier

omgomgomgd : The question that I have after watching this is: Physically computed photoshop filters when?

Duncan Ellis : I wonder if this has any application to travelling salesman problems, because those get much harder as the network increases in size while this would scale linearly in computation time. The question is whether there is a mapping from these tesselations to solutions to the network traversal, which I'm doubtful about. Interesting topic, though. Lots more questions to ask!

Clem Clem : It's not turing complete.

beegDIGIT : Should've been on SixtySymbols

Royvan7 : how does one determine which points are "closest" to a particular point? is this just an arbitrary cut off?

Kevin Domingo : Shouldn't Graphine be a replacement for silica quartz etc techno-ologee... ;)

Karl Kastor : But this isn't NP complete, is it?

Martin Heermance : Aren't all computers ultimately physical computers?