John M. Sullivan

Professor of Mathematics, Math Dept, Technische Universitaet Berlin

"My art is an outgrowth of my work as a mathematician. My research studies curves and surfaces whose shape is determined by optimization principles or minimization of energy. A classical example is a soap bubble which is round because it minimizes its area while enclosing a fixed volume. Like most research mathematicians, I find beauty in the elegant structure of mathematical proofs, and I feel that this elegance is discovered, not invented, by humans. I am fortunate that my own work also leads to visually appealing shapes, which can present a kind of beauty more accessible to the public."


“Tight Borromean Rings ”

2008, computer graphics print, 36" x 22"

The ropelength problem asks for the shape of a knot of link when it is tied tight in rope of fixed circular cross-section. Exact descriptions of the shape are available in only a few cases, including the Borromean rings. This print, joint work with Charles Gunn, shows two renderings of the tight Borromean rings, highlighting different feature of the shape.