If you are sitting in front of a computer and reading some text, you are enjoying both the art of typography and the mathematics of curves. It’s a complex computation to take a letter in a font, and place them on a screen. Donald Knuth, the most notable professor of CS at Stanford, made his name creating a system to do just that for books. Charles Simonyi made a notable fortune by creating the first editor that shows what would be printed out as you typed it (this was Microsoft Word, the cornerstone of Microsoft Office). The founder of Adobe, John Warnock started out by laying out the basic mathematical foundations of describing letters in a “device independent manner”, one that would work on a screen or on paper. But credit needs to start with Pierre Bézier, whose developed the curves that bear his name to design the body of cars at Renault.

So, when you see that bold caption on a cat picture, give a thought to the complex bit of math that makes it possible.

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