A conversation with Jim Armstrong and Ben Fry
Filmed at FITC Toronto 2007
The Design & Technology Festival
More info at fitc.ca
Ben Fry spends all his time thinking about, and making pictures of, patterns and structures found in complex and dynamic sources of data. Drawing on a background in graphic design and computer science, he pursues this fascination as head of a small firm in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he produces software, printed works, installations, and books that explain and depict topics from the human genome to baseball salaries to the evolution of text documents. He's also co-founder of the Processing project, which seeks to ruin the careers of talented designers by tempting them away from their usual tools and into the world of programming and computation.
Mr. Armstrong did his undergraduate work in Math and Aerospace Engineering with some graduate studies in Operations Research. Much of his undergraduate time was spent studying numerical analysis and computational geometry. After graduating, he moved into the high-performance computing industry and spent the majority of that time writing assembly-language math libraries for supercomputers. At the end of his HPC career, he became interested in operations research and business decision analytics. This interest eventually led him to become market development manager for Finance and OR at Silicon Graphics. His tour of duty in the operations research arena included writing low-level solvers for multi-objective programming and planning under uncertainty. He then moved onto freelance work. A freelance career that began with writing plug-ins in C++ for high-end 3D software has now migrated to RIA development in Adobe Flash. About 70% of his time is spent in application development (for clients such as Express Jet, J.C. Penney, and Voyager Learning) with the remainder split among applied math consulting and his blog. Although he currently programs predominantly in Flash Actionscript (2 and 3), his past programming experience includes assembler, Fortran 77, Fortran 90, C, C++, and C#.