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FEATURE ARTICLE

Conformal Mappings

Imaginary numbers are not figments, complex numbers are not difficult, but with such "imaginative mathematics," one can map irregular surfaces precisely

Steven Krantz

Conformal maps are used by mathematicians, cartographers and physicists to deform regions in a way that preserves shape on a small scale. Difficult problems in heat and fluid flow can be transformed by a conformal map into simple problems whose answers are already known—in effect, tailoring the solution to fit the problem. New methods using circle packing are ideally suited for programming on a computer, and they are being applied to the challenge of making a conformal map of the human brain—important for interpreting functional information from brain imaging.


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