The Travelling Salesman

Hey, this spring I worked on an animated short. If you want to see it, click here:

If you want to know more about it, read on!


The Travelling Salesman Problem (TSP), is a classic problem in Computer Science which gives the locations of a set of cities and asks what is the optimal route a travelling salesman can take that visits all the cities and returns to the start.

Bob Bosch with Adrianne Herman developed the idea of TSP Art, which depicts images by displaying the optimal tour of a TSP for carefully selected city locations. Craig Kaplan suggested using a stippling algorithm to set the city locations and they wrote it up in one of my favorite Bridges papers: TSP Art.

Morphing TSP Art

Which takes us to this year. This year, Bridges (a conference celebrating the connections between Math and Art) is coming to Waterloo, the city where I live. I’m very excited by that. And for this year’s Bridges proceedings, I wrote a paper about Morphing TSP Art (the link may not be live yet).

Let me tell you about it. Morphing TSP Art is a method to smoothly transition from TSP Art of one picture to another. Like so:


So what to do with this? Make a cartoon!

The Travelling Salesman (Animated Short Film)

So I took on this project.  I implemented some transitions in a webpage (powered by javascript and the D3 library used for visualizing and animating data).  But as ambitious and eager as I was, I was still too naive to realize that a five minute video is a phenomenal amount of work!

We entered the video into the Bridges 2017 Short Film Festival and it got in! So you can come see it (along with several other short films that make connections between Mathematics and Art) at the public Family Day of the Bridges conference on Sunday, July 30th, 2017 at the University of Waterloo (I believe it’s at Fed Hall but don’t quote me on that).

Lastly I want to give Elisabeth Gillies kudos. She did the music – which was way beyond what I hoped for it. If you want to get in touch with her drop me a line and I’ll connect you.

So I hope you enjoy the video.  If you do, don’t be afraid to share it.



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