Cover image for Design by numbers
Design by numbers
Maeda, John.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Cambridge, Mass. : MIT Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
256 pages : illustrations ; 26 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
QA76.6 .M336 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



This text shows how to use the computer as an artistic medium in its own right. The author introduces a programming language and development environment, available on the Web, which can be downloaded or run directly within any JAVA-enabled Web browser. The language, called DBN, has very few commands and consists of elements resembling those of other languages, such as LISP, LOGO, C/JAVA and BASIC. The first half of the book places minimal emphasis on mathematics. The second half uses intermediate mathematical concepts that generally do not go beyond high-school algebra.

Author Notes

John Maeda is the Associate Director, Sony Career Development Professor of Media Arts and Sciences/Associate Professor of Design and Computation, and Director of the Aesthetics and Computation Group at the MIT Media Lab

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Using computers for making art or executing design tasks usually means working with high-level software packages. Such software may save labor through the automation of complex operations, but some practitioners are skeptical. They fear that its use tends to degrade creative modalities by eroding self-discipline and strategic thinking in favor of cut-and-paste trial-and-error. Simultaneously sympathetic to this critique and committed to using computers, Maeda (MIT) councils designers to take the next step and learn programming themselves. Programming takes the artist or designer well beyond the usual point-and-click smorgasbord into the realm of powerful and precise language facilitating the expression of delicate visual ideas. By way of encouraging artists and designers to take the challenge, Maeda has designed a simple language (DBN), freely available on the Web, and has written this book as a programming primer for readers lacking previous programming experience or advanced mathematical preparation. Although the book wins over the reader with its compelling graphic examples and wise commentary, one wonders at the decision to create a new language given the simplicity, elegance, and wide availability of Adobe PostScript, the industry standard. Upper-division undergraduates through professionals. D. V. Feldman; University of New Hampshire

Table of Contents

Forewordp. 9
Prefacep. 13
1 Beginp. 19
2 Commandsp. 23
3 Linep. 29
4 Linesp. 35
5 Variablesp. 45
6 Repeatp. 55
7 Calculatep. 69
8 Dotp. 83
9 Dotsp. 99
10 Nestp. 109
11 Questionp. 121
12 Commandsp. 135
13 Timep. 149
14 Paintp. 165
15 Reactp. 175
16 Touchp. 189
17 Networkp. 203
18 Changep. 217
19 Numbersp. 235
20 Endp. 251
Bibliographyp. 255