I’m pleased to see that a friend of mine and Jimcat’s from dear ol’ RPI, Mark-Jason Dominus, raconteur, coding guru, and wit, has started a blog, The Universe of Discourse. Right now its contents will probably scare off anyone who’s not into math or programming.
Around 1994 I started dating a woman who was a quilter. […] There are many traditional designs for quilt blocks, with colorful names like Flying Geese, Corn and Beans, Broken Dishes, Log Cabin, Courthouse Steps, Underground Railroad, Bear Claw, and so on. But after seeing a lot of quilts and pictures of quilts, it occurred to me that there might be a lot of block designs that nobody used, and that perhaps had never been seen.
I was curious about this, and also I wanted to impress my new girlfriend, so I wrote a suite of Perl programs to generate all the quilt blocks of a certain type: sixteen “half-square triangle” patches arranged into a square with 90-degree rotational symmetry, and printed out the result.
I was delighted, because the results confirmed my suspicions: there are a lot of excellent but rarely-seen quilt blocks. […] I was even more delighted when the quilter and I got married. She made the program output into a real quilt and gave it to me as a wedding present. […]
Since my original goal in writing the programs was to impress my girlfriend, the cover pictures [they’re on the cover of his recent book, Higher Order Perl — Zed] are therefore part of the output of the most successful Perl programs I’ve ever written. I wish all my programs achieved their design goals so spectacularly.
Follow the link for pictures.
1 I looked it up — I had a draft entry from 2004 with an older link to the story, noting that it was more on using Perl to impress women.