Functional Image Synthesis 

Conal Elliott

Appeared in Bridges 2001


Software used to produce visual beauty is usually created with imperative programming languages and is typically unbeautiful itself. One fundamental reason for this situation is that these languages reflect the underlying discreteness and sequentiality of the computers that run them. The essential nature of what an image is becomes muddled with details of how to display it on a computer. We can, however, generate beautiful images with beautiful programs, by making a shift of programming paradigm, from doing to being. This claim is illustrated by many examples expressed in Pan, an image synthesis language with a freely available optimizing compiler.


This paper is available in three versions, all PDF: low resolution (1.1Mb), medium resolution (2.7Mb) and high-resolution (6.9Mb).  All of these versions have color illustrations, but look okay on a grey-scale printer.  Note that this paper takes some liberties with notation for clarity.  Note also that the technical content is a subset of that of "Functional Images".  See the figures, including animations, for that paper.

See also:


  author       = {Conal Elliott},
  title        = {Functional Image Synthesis},
  url          = {},
  booktitle    = {Proceedings of Bridges},
  year         = 2001