Shirley Yap

Associate Professor of Mathematics
California State University East Bay
San Francisco, California USA

I enjoy the technical and artistic challenge of bringing mathematics out of pages and computer screens and into people's hands. Installations that are interactive and exploratory are particularly inspiring. Although I use computer aided design programs and mathematical software to create both two and three dimensional pieces, I often begin creating with equations and sketches on paper. My media include wood, metal, clay, and plastic.

Leaves of Glass : Bernstein polynomials
5 x 20 x 20 cm
Etched acrylic mounted on stained birch

Bernstein polynomials form a basis with many interesting properties, including the ability to be defined recursively in an intuitive way. This fact, as well as a theorem of Mabry which computes the envelope of a family of Bernstein curves, led me to experiment with the polynomials within certain parameters. The results were surprisingly beautiful, and led to a familiar curve stitching model as well as similar, but more complex, envelopes given by quadratics and cubics. I designed the piece and built the wood mounting to facilitate interaction and exploration of the piece by the viewer.