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Randomness

A zine about the math of art

Grab a (metaphorical) pencil

Let's start with a small exercise. Try to place dots at random in this canvas.

If you’re like me, you might have noticed that you try to avoid previous dots when you go to place a new one. That, by definition, can’t be random because you’re using a principle of organization: no dots where there already are some. For a truly random set of dots, you would have to place each dot as if it were the first and only dot, completely disregarding the location of the other dots.

Here’s what that might look like:

Our brains are always looking for patterns, even in places where there aren’t any. This is why we see familiar shapes in clouds, stars, mosaic floors and faces everywhere. Our brains look at the clusters in the randomly generated dots and think, “there’s a reason these are together”. In reality, it’s incredibly rare to not have clustering in truly random sets.

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