Cardiff University | Prifysgol Caerdydd ORCA
Online Research @ Cardiff 
WelshClear Cookie - decide language by browser settings

The Compass, the Ruler and the Computer

Duvernoy, Sylvie and Rosin, Paul L. ORCID: 2006. The Compass, the Ruler and the Computer. Presented at: Nexus 2006, Genoa, Italy, 7-9 June 2006. Published in: Duvernoy, Sylvie and Pedemonte, Orietta eds. Nexus VI: Architecture and Mathematics. Turin, Italy: Kim Williams Books, pp. 21-34.

Full text not available from this repository.


The purpose of research in ancient architecture, or ancient urban design, is usually to unveil a hidden theoretical knowledge, or at least an intentional geometric and/or arithmetic order. This knowledge may be proved either by using the same procedures that ancient designers probably used themselves: diagrams drawn with some kind of manual graphical device, or applying modern procedures provided by contemporary mathematics. The two approaches may be combined in the same study in order to allow scholars to reach more reliable conclusions. Using techniques from computer science it is possible to carry out a more precise and less subjective analysis of shapes and dimensions, which may also reveal the surprising accuracy with which ancient monuments were designed and laid out. In addition to such an investigation, a simultaneous inquiry on ancient relationships between mathematics and architecture will make possible the verification of the assertions proposed, and will allow us to understand how geometrical shapes could be practically drawn and transformed in architectural forms in the context of the contemporary scientific and cultural knowledge. The present study demonstrates the complementarity of the two methodologies - analysis with modern digital tools, and classical simulation with ancient tools - in the case study of roman amphitheatres. The geometrical analysis and the arithmetical analysis both converge to the same conclusion. Furthermore they corroborate the conclusions suggested by the numerical analysis with modern mathematics (i.e., the manipulation of computer science). Therefore, the coherence of the results coming from our different approaches allows us to assert that the geometrical pattern of Pompeii's amphitheatre is a rare example of elliptic shape in architecture. Furthermore, its geometry and dimensions also show some of the finest evidence of direct application of the latest discoveries in mathematical knowledge and science in architectural design in classic antiquity.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Computer Science & Informatics
Subjects: Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science
Publisher: Kim Williams Books
ISBN: 8888479147
Related URLs:
Last Modified: 24 Oct 2022 11:07

Citation Data

Actions (repository staff only)

Edit Item Edit Item