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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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