A couple of weeks ago, I did a post about origami. In origami, figures are made with only folding. But, there is a variation of origami, called kirigami, that involves folding and cutting and then opening up the folded paper. Familiar examples are the snowflake and paper dolls, that you may have made as a kid.
In the field of mathematics, Erik Demaine of MIT has been working on what is called the fold-and-cut problem. The fold-and-cut process involves folding the paper, making one straight cut, and then unfolding the paper. Any figure formed from straight lines can be produced this way. The problem is figuring out how to fold the paper – that’s where the computational geometry comes in. Demaine has several patterns on his website, and the video below shows the process for creating a swan.