Ever since version 0.8.0051 of Grasshopper, there is a second solver available from within Galapagos which implements the Simulated Annealing algorithm. Like the existing Evolutionary solver, Simulated Annealing is also a meta-heuristic technique, but works in a fundamentally different fashion. Having access to both solvers makes it easier to circumvent some of the shortcomings of each. Ironically, Simulated Annealing is a much simpler process than Simulated Evolution but may be harder to understand since the real-world analogy is more abstract and based on a less well known process.

In metallurgy, annealing is the process of controlled heating and cooling of metal to achieve certain material properties. At first, the metal is heated up to melting point so it can be cast or formed. At an atomic level, heat is nothing more than particle velocity. The particles (atoms & molecules alike) in a hot substrate move faster than the same particles in a cold substrate. At some point the velocity of two particles will be so high that they cannot succeed in forming a persistent bond between them. When this happens the substrate loses internal structure and turns liquid.

Atoms in liquid metal

Read the rest of this entry »

Sugar and Spice

October 8, 2011

And now for something completely different. With the imminent arrival of girlfriend coming to stay with me until Christmas, I figured I’d better beef up my pastry skills as she’s way better at that than I am, and we obviously can’t have that. I’ve always been partial to cinnamon (up to the point of making cinnamon sauce for tenderloin) and found an absolutely fantastic recipe. It takes a bit of preparation, but most of that is spend leaving the dough alone so as long as you start baking in the morning you can have a lovely afternoon tea. Only down-side I found is that it does tend to get stale pretty quick, so ideally make it when you have guests.

I’m not going to reproduce the recipe here as it has already been documented to the point of perfection by Joy the Baker¬†and here’s an alternate recipe by Zoom Yummy.

These pictures were taken three days ago, since then summer has disappeared and has been replaced swiftly and without error by snow.

Still life with pastry, tea and cat (cat's not moving much so it's technically a still life)

Warning; legal and moral clap-trap ahead.

First, a bit of history. You might be surprised to learn that programming pre-dates computers by about a century and a half. The two are so synonymous these days that it’s hard to imagine a computer without programs or a program without a computer. But machines have been controlled using honest-to-goodness code from the early 1800’s (think of automated looms and pianolas). Most commonly the program was stored on punch cards that were fed into a machine which executed the instructions. But even a hand-cranked music box is an example of programming.

With the advent of the modern (read: electronic) computer in the 1940’s, programming as we understand it today makes its first appearance. Basically a program is a series of instructions. Some instructions pertain to reading or writing bits in memory, others are concerned with computational steps such as addition of two numbers. The main reason computers became so popular is that they are unwaveringly consistent in the application of their programs. You can always trust a computer to do as it’s told*.

Read the rest of this entry »