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computational origami

Computational origami is a type of computer program for modeling the ways in which various materials, including paper, can be folded. (Origami is the Japanese art of paper folding.) Such programs have been used for a variety of purposes, including engineering applications.

The principles of geometry were first applied to origami around the mid-twentieth century, when Japanese physicists and mathematicians began to formulate axioms (self-evident truths) that explain how folding creates three dimensional objects from a flat material. Humaiki Huzita, an Italian-Japanese mathematician, developed a sequence of six increasingly complex origami axioms that describe, at the most basic level, how any two points on a flat surface can be connected in a single line fold, and at the most complex level, the ways that four points on a flat surface can be related.

Computational origami has been used to create complex paper objects, such as insects, that were once thought to be beyond the medium's capacities. In addition to achieving previously inconceivable feats of origami, however, computer programs have also been applied to more practical problems, such as how to most effectively fold a roadmap, an airbag, and computer processors. The latter purpose was one of the original driving forces behind the development of computational origami: researchers believe that by folding processors most efficiently, they can fit the maximum amount of information into the smallest possible area.

This was last updated in August 2009

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