Computers, Pattern, Chaos, and Beauty: Graphics from an Unseen World

Clifford A. Pickover, Author St. Martin's Press $29.95 (394p) ISBN 978-0-312-04123-6

Computer graphics reveal hidden relationships in complex systems, make confusing data understandable and provide scientists and mathematicians with a tool for discovery and problem-solving. Featuring 200 black-and-white computer images and eight pages in color, this sourcebook includes programming exercises and mathematical recreations. Though most of the narrative requires advanced mathematical understanding, the general reader will find the computer artwork intriguing. The sounds of human speech yield snowflake-like patterns; Art Nouveau-ish images emerge out of mathematical relationships; structural changes in biomolecules produce graphics resembling galaxies and whirlpools. Diligent readers will gain an appreciation of how computer imaging helps scientists simulate plant tendril growth, analyze the Shroud of Turin, unravel the structure of cancer genes and investigate spiral patterns in DNA and galaxies' arms. Pickover is an editor at Computers and Graphics. (May)