Functional Image Synthesis

Conal Elliott
Bridges: Mathematical Connections in Art, Music, and Science (2001)
Pages 139–158


Software used to produce visual beauty is usually created with imperative programming languages and is typically unbeautiful itself. One fundamental reason for this situation is that these languages reflect the underlying discreteness and sequentiality of the computers that run them. The essential nature of what an image is becomes muddled with details of how to display it on a computer. We can, however, generate beautiful images with beautiful programs, by making a shift of programming paradigm, from doing to being. This claim is illustrated by many examples expressed in Pan, an image synthesis language with a freely available optimizing compiler.