Invited Address

Thomas Hull
Western New England University

Origami-Mathematics:  How to Fold Paper, Polymers, and Robots

Abstract:
Origami, the art of paper folding, has been practiced in Japan and all over the world for centuries.  The past decade, however, has witnessed a surge of interest in using origami for science.  Applications in robotics, airbag design, deployment of space structures, and even medicine are appearing in the popular science press.  Videos of origami robots folding themselves up and walking away or performing tasks have gone viral in recent years.  What's more, the National Science Foundation has recently found origami valuable enough to fund millions of dollars for studying engineering and science applications of origami.  But if the art of paper folding is so old, why has there been an increase in origami applications now?  One answer is because of mathematics.  Advances in our understanding of how folding processes work has arisen due to success in modeling origami mathematically.  In this presentation we will explore why origami lends itself to mathematical study and see some of the applications that origami-math has inspired.