18 years after the original breakthrough, a team of engineers have a universal algorithm for folding origami shapes that guarantees a minimum number of seams. In a 1999 paper, Erik Demaine, then an 18-year-old PhD student at the University of Waterloo, in Canada, described an algorithm that could determine how to fold a piece of paper into any conceivable 3-D shape. It was a milestone paper in the field of computational origami, but the algorithm wasn’t very inefficient.
Oragami Algorithm Perfected
Dr Demaine, now an MIT professor of electrical engineering and computer science, teamed up with Tomohiro Tachi of the University of Tokyo to perfect the algorithm. They will triumphantly announce the completion of a universal algorithm for folding origami shapes that guarantees a minimum number of seams at the Symposium on Computational Geometry in July.
Paper: “Origamizer: A Practical Algorithm for Folding Any Polyhedron http://erikdemaine.
“The algorithm begins by mapping the facets of the target polyhedron onto a flat surface. But whereas the facets will be touching when the folding is complete, they can be quite far apart from each other on the flat surface. “You fold away all the extra material and bring together the faces of the polyhedron,” Demaine says.
Tomohiro Tachi has been involved in the quest for the best algorithm for many years too, as he wrote Origamizer, the free software for generating origami crease patterns first released in 2008. Together Demaine and Tachi are now working to come out with a new release of Origamizer, based on the new algorithm.