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The Edges of Representation: Katherine Ye

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Katherine Ye is a PhD student at CMU, where she works on representation, including programming languages, visualizations, notations, and interfaces to enable thinking and creating. She's been affiliated with MIT CSAIL, Princeton, Distill at Google Brain, and the Recurse Center.

In this conversation we discuss Penrose, her project to _democraize visual intuition_. Katherine envisions "a magical machine where you can dump in a math textbook and out comes a fully-illustrated math textbook, or more specifically a platform where you can simply type mathematical notation in plain text and automatically get many useful and beautiful diagrams out illustrating the notation." It's a fascinating project in the intersection of mathematics, intuition, education, visualization, communication, programming, domain specific languages... basically, all of the interesting topics in one project.

As you'd expect in a conversation about the edges of representation, this is a wide-ranging conversation that I can described by a collection of keywords that came up:

  • embodied intuition
  • code as rhetoric
  • asemic language
  • Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.
  • univalence, homotopy, equivalence, equality
  • modeling the notation of mathematics
  • knot notation, dance notation, and the periodic table of juggling notation
  • a studio class on notation design
  • explorable explanations
  • speculative nonfiction
  • the unexpected futures next door

Transcript provided by repl.it at https://futureofcoding.org/episodes/34#transcript

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