The end of the terror of mathematics is closer: this software transforms complicated expressions into simple images

The end of the terror of mathematics is closer: this software transforms complicated expressions into simple images

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Mathematics has earned a reputation for being a complicated science. Even unaffordable for many people. And yes, the most advanced of course are complex because they force whoever flirts with them to perform a great effort of abstraction. Fortunately, not all fields of this discipline are so demanding with people who dare to immerse themselves in them.

What is beyond discussion is its enormous relevance and its profound impact on a good part of the sciences with which it coexists and which it complements. This is why all the effort that is being made to get more people to stop being intimidated by mathematics is very welcome. And, precisely, in this area we have good news: the ‘Penrose’ software has been designed to iron out rough edges and ensure that are much more affordable.

This program has been developed by an interdisciplinary team from Carnegie Mellon University, located in Pennsylvania (United States), which is made up of mathematicians, computer engineers and neuroscientists. It was presented during the SIGGRAPH 2020 edition, but, despite the fact that two years have passed since then, it remains relatively little known outside the field frequented by researchers. And that’s a shame because, as we’re about to see, it’s very worth it.

A simple image is much more affordable than a complicated expression

The purpose of ‘Penrose’ is simple: it transforms abstract, and therefore complicated, mathematical expressions into images that are easier to understand. Obviously we are still in the field of mathematics, so to correctly interpret the images that this software gives us, it is also necessary to make an effort. Even so, there is no doubt that by eliminating much of the abstraction at a stroke, the concepts are noticeably more affordable.

It is important to keep in mind that this tool is not limited to graphically representing basic functions. This is done brilliantly by many other programs that have been available for decades. The main contribution of ‘Penrose’ lies precisely in its ability to deal with complex expressions and relationships that are established among the objects with which any area of ​​mathematics works.

‘Penrose’ deals with expressions and the complex relationships that are established between the objects with which any area of ​​mathematics works

This software only needs us to give it an expression using the same mathematical language with which we are familiar, and it takes care of carrying out all the hard work assuming the effort that is necessary to transform that collection of numbers and symbols into an image.

In addition, the creators of ‘Penrose’ have also developed a programming language designed to help us manipulate any complex expression or relationship in a reasonably simple way. Another important point: we can use it directly from any browser and without having to install anything on our computer. We only have to access the website dedicated to this software that has been published by the team that has developed it.


One last note to conclude: the software to which we have dedicated this article has received its name because the researchers who have developed it wanted to pay homage to Roger Penrose. This British mathematical physicist has made essential contributions in the fields of cosmology and general relativity, receiving the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics alongside Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez for their work on black holes.

Cover image: monstera

More information: Penrose

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