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Background In 1989, I wrote an article for the magazine Engineering & Science about the state of technical folding, which, even then, seemed to be progressing by leaps and bounds due to an infusion of scientific and mathematical principles. In recounting some of the connections between origami, math, and technology, I wrote: Computing succumbed to the appeal of folded paper when, in 1971, Arthur Appel programmed an IBM System 360 computer to print out simple geometric configurations at the rate of more than one hundred a minute. Ninety percent were considered unsuccessful, but it raises an interesting question: could a computer someday design a model deemed superior to that designed by man?
When, at the beginning of the semester, we were doing our segment on papermaking, I was intrigued by several samples I had made in the Oriental papermaking fashion. In the experiment we used kozo fiber and formation aid to create a sheet of paper by washing the solution over a bamboo mat rather than letting it drain through the mold. The results were much thinner and more flexible, but much more difficult for me to rip than the paper we had made using cotton or abaca pulp and a regular mold. For this reason I decided to experiment with the Oriental papermaking style. I was mostly interested in creating the thin sheets that result more easily from the Oriental style; the sheets we had made in the traditional Western fashion were thick. In doing some research on the different fibers I found that the kozo fibers, along with the other Oriental fibers, tended to be much longer than other Western fibers.
In recent years, a new form of written instruction has become common within the modern art of origami: the crease pattern (often referred to by its abbreviation, CP). Conventional origami diagrams describe a figure by a folding sequence — a linear step-by-step pattern of progression. Crease patterns, by contrast, provide a one-step connection from the unfolded square to the folded form, compressing hundreds of creases, and sometimes hours of folding, into a single diagram! Small wonder, then, that to many people, the concept of an origami crease pattern as a form of origami instruction is more than a little reminiscent of a famous Sidney Harris cartoon in which a scientific derivation is described by the phrase “then a miracle occurs…”