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Robert Bosch



Stainless steel and brass, Diameter = 6 inches, thickness = 0.25 inches, 2009.

"I began by converting a drawing of a two-component link into a symmetric collection of points. By treating the points as the cities of a Traveling Salesman Problem and adding constraints that forced the salesman's tour to be symmetric, I constructed a symmetric simple-closed curve that divides the plane into two pieces: inside and outside. With a water jet cutter, I cut along this Jordan curve through quarter-inch thick, six-inch diameter disks of steel and brass. By swapping inside pieces I obtained two copies of the sculpture. Here, steel is inside and brass is outside."

Robert Bosch, Artist/Professor of Mathematics, Department of Mathematics, Oberlin College
Oberlin, Ohio

All artists are optimizers. All artists try to perform a task --- creating a piece of artwork --- at the highest level possible. The main difference between me and other artists is that I use optimization explicitly. I don't use a pencil, paintbrush, or any other traditional tool. I do use a computer, but not in the same way that other digital artists do. Instead, I use mathematical optimization. Here's how I work: After I get an idea for a piece, I translate the idea into a mathematical optimization problem. I then solve the problem, render the solution, and see if I'm pleased with the result. If I am, I stop. If not, I revise the mathematical optimization problem, solve it, render its solution, and examine it. Often, I need to go through many iterations to end up with a piece that pleases me. I do this out of a love of mathematical optimization --- the theory, the algorithms, the numerous applications.