Mathematics is the study of numbers, quantity, space, structure, and change. Mathematics is used throughout the world as an essential tool in many fields, including natural science, engineering, medicine, and the social sciences. Applied mathematics, the branch of mathematics concerned with application of mathematical knowledge to other fields, inspires and makes use of new mathematical discoveries and sometimes leads to the development of entirely new mathematical disciplines, such as statistics and game theory. Mathematicians also engage in pure mathematics, or mathematics for its own sake, without having any application in mind. There is no clear line separating pure and applied mathematics, and practical applications for what began as pure mathematics are often discovered.
e is the unique number such that the slope of y=ex (blue curve) is exactly 1 when x=0 (illustrated by the red tangent line). For comparison, the curves y=2x (dotted curve) and y=4x (dashed curve) are shown. Image credit: Dick Lyon
A Bézier curve is a parametric curve important in computer graphics and related fields.
Widely publicized in 1962 by the French engineer Pierre Bézier, who used them to design automobile bodies, the curves were first developed in 1959 by Paul de Casteljau using de Casteljau's algorithm. In this animation, a quartic Bézier curve is constructed using control points P0 through P4. The green line segments join points moving at a constant rate from one control point to the next; the parametert shows the progress over time. Meanwhile, the blue line segments join points moving in a similar manner along the green segments, and the magenta line segment points along the blue segments. Finally, the black point moves at a constant rate along the magenta line segment, tracing out the final curve in red. The curve is a fourth-degree function of its parameter. Quadratic and cubic Bézier curves are most common since higher-degree curves are more computationally costly to evaluate. When more complex shapes are needed, lower-order Bézier curves are patched together. For example, modern computer fonts use Bézier splines composed of quadratic or cubic Bézier curves to create scalable typefaces. The curves are also used in computer animation and video games to plot smooth paths of motion. Approximate Bézier curves can be generated in the "real world" using string art.