On the suggestion of a friend, I rendered this animation:
This quasicrystal is full of emergent patterns, but it can be described in a simple way. Imagine that every point in the plane is shaded according to the cosine of its y coordinate. The result would look like this:
Now we can rotate this image to get other waves, like these:
Each frame of the animation is a summation of such waves at evenly-spaced rotations. The animation occurs as each wave moves forward.
I recommend viewing it up close, and then from a few feet back. There are different patterns at each spatial scale.
To render this animation I wrote a Haskell program, using the Repa array library. For my purposes, the advantages of Repa are:
- Immutable arrays, supporting clean, expressive code
- A fast implementation, including automatic parallelization
- Easy output to image files, via
Here is a simplified (but complete!) program, which renders a single still image.
import Data.Array.Repa ( Array, DIM2, DIM3, Z(..), (:.)(..) )
import qualified Data.Array.Repa as R
import qualified Data.Array.Repa.IO.DevIL as D
import Data.Word ( Word8 )
import Data.Fixed ( divMod' )
For clarity, we define a few type synonyms:
type R = Float
type R2 = (R, R)
type Angle = R
We'll convert pixel indices to coordinates in the real plane, with origin at the image center. We have to decide how many pixels to draw, and how much of the plane to show.
pixels :: Int
pixels = 800
scale :: R
scale = 128
Repa's array indices are "snoc lists" of the form
(Z :. x :. y). By contrast, our planar coordinates are conventional tuples.
point :: DIM2 -> R2
point = \(Z :. x :. y) -> (adj x, adj y) where
adj n = scale * ((2 * fromIntegral n / denom) - 1)
denom = fromIntegral pixels - 1
A single wave is a cosine depending on x and y coordinates in some proportion, determined by the wave's orientation angle.
wave :: Angle -> R2 -> R
wave th = f where
(cth, sth) = (cos th, sin th)
f (x,y) = (cos (cth*x + sth*y) + 1) / 2
To combine several functions, we sum their outputs, and wrap to produce a result between 0 and 1. As
(wrap n) will rise to 1, fall back to 0, rise again, and so on.
sequence converts a list of functions to a function returning a list, using the monad instance for
combine :: [R2 -> R] -> (R2 -> R)
combine xs = wrap . sum . sequence xs where
wrap n = case divMod' n 1 of
(k, v) | odd k -> 1-v
| otherwise -> v
To draw the quasicrystal, we combine waves at 7 angles evenly spaced between 0 and π.
angles :: Int -> [Angle]
angles n = take n $ enumFromThen 0 (pi / fromIntegral n)
quasicrystal :: DIM2 -> R
quasicrystal = combine (map wave (angles 7)) . point
We convert an array of floating-point values to an image in two steps. First, we map floats in [0,1] to bytes in [0,255]. Then we copy this to every color channel. The result is a 3-dimensional array, indexed by (row, column, channel).
repa-devil takes such an array and outputs a PNG image file.
toImage :: Array DIM2 R -> Array DIM3 Word8
toImage arr = R.traverse arr8 (:. 4) chans where
arr8 = R.map (floor . (*255) . min 1 . max 0) arr
chans _ (Z :. _ :. _ :. 3) = 255 -- alpha channel
chans a (Z :. x :. y :. _) = a (Z :. x :. y)
main :: IO ()
main = do
let arr = R.fromFunction (Z :. pixels :. pixels) quasicrystal
D.runIL $ D.writeImage "out.png" (toImage arr)
Repa's array operations automatically run in parallel. We just need to enable GHC's threaded runtime.
$ ghc -O2 -rtsopts -threaded quasicrystal.lhs $ ./quasicrystal +RTS -N $ xview out.png
And it looks like this:
repa-devil silently refuses to overwrite an existing file, so you may need to
rm out.png first.
On my 6-core machine, this parallel code ran in 3.72 seconds of wall-clock time, at a CPU utilization of 474%. The same code compiled without
-threaded took 14.20 seconds, so the net efficiency of parallelization is 382%. This is a good result; what's better is how little work it required on my part. Cutting a mere 10 seconds from a single run is not a big deal. But it starts to matter when rendering many frames of animation, and trying out variations on the algorithm.
As a side note, switching from
Double increased the run time by about 30%. I suspect this is due to increased demand for memory bandwidth and cache space.
You can grab the Literate Haskell source and try it out on your own machine. This is my first Repa program ever, so I'd much appreciate feedback on improving the code.
Be sure to check out Michael Rule's work on animating quasicrystals.