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Tupper's self-referential formula

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Tupper's self-referential formula is a formula that visually represents itself when graphed at a specific location in the (x, y) plane.


The formula was defined by Jeff Tupper and appears as an example in Tupper's 2001 SIGGRAPH paper on reliable two-dimensional computer graphing algorithms.[1] This paper discusses methods related to the GrafEq formula-graphing program developed by Tupper.[2]

Although the formula is called "self-referential", Tupper did not name it as such.[3]


The formula is an inequality defined as:

where denotes the floor function, and mod is the modulo operation.


Let equal the following 543-digit integer:

Derivation of k

Graphing the set of points in and which satisfy the formula, results in the following plot:[note 1]

The formula is a general-purpose method of decoding a bitmap stored in the constant , and it could be used to draw any other image. When applied to the unbounded positive range , the formula tiles a vertical swath of the plane with a pattern that contains all possible 17-pixel-tall bitmaps. One horizontal slice of that infinite bitmap depicts the drawing formula itself, but this is not remarkable, since other slices depict all other possible formulae that might fit in a 17-pixel-tall bitmap. Tupper has created extended versions of his original formula that rule out all but one slice.[4]

The constant is a simple monochrome bitmap image of the formula treated as a binary number and multiplied by 17. If is divided by 17, the least significant bit encodes the upper-right corner ; the 17 least significant bits encode the rightmost column of pixels; the next 17 least significant bits encode the 2nd-rightmost column, and so on.

It fundamentally describes a way to plot points on a two-dimensional surface. The value of is the number whose binary digits form the plot. The following plot demonstrates the addition of different values of . In the fourth subplot, the k-value of "AFGP" and "Aesthetic Function Graph" is added to get the resultant graph, where both texts can be seen with some distortion due to the effects of binary addition. The information regarding the shape of the plot is stored within .[5]

Addition of different values of k

See also[edit]



  1. ^ The axes in this plot have been reversed, otherwise the picture would be upside-down and mirrored.


  1. ^ * Tupper, Jeff. "Reliable Two-Dimensional Graphing Methods for Mathematical Formulae with Two Free Variables" Archived 2019-07-13 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ "Pedagoguery Software: GrafEq". www.peda.com. Archived from the original on 2021-02-24. Retrieved 2007-09-09.
  3. ^ Narayanan, Arvind. "Tupper's Self-Referential Formula Debunked". Archived from the original on 24 April 2015. Retrieved 20 February 2015.
  4. ^ "Selfplot directory". Pedagoguery Software. Retrieved 2022-01-15.
  5. ^ "Tupper's-Function". Github. Aesthetic Function Graphposting. 2019-06-13. Retrieved 2019-07-07.


External links[edit]