Gibbons Students Bridget Went ’17 and Son Ngo ’17: The Beauty of Symmetry

Computer science and math double major Son Ngo ’17 and computer science and mathematics interdisciplinary major Bridget Went ’17 are working together this summer to help a professor develop software that uses the mathematics of symmetry to create art.

While Bowdoin faculty are advising the students—Visiting Assistant Professor of Computer Science Sean Barker, Assistant Professor of Digital and Computational Studies and Computer Science Mohammad Irfan, andVisual Arts Technician Tara Youngborg—Went and Ngo are working with software designed by Associate Professor Frank Farris, a mathematician from Santa Clara University.

Ngo and Went are improving Ferris’s software interface to make it easier for non-mathematicians and students. “He wants the software to be usable for artists,” Went explained. They are also trying to improve the performance of the software and make it faster.

Went said she was attracted to the job because it merges math, computer science, and art. “For me, this is a perfect crossroads of what I’m interested in,” she added. “I love abstract math and computer science. And I’ve always been passionate about designing and aesthetics.” Plus, she added, it’s liberating to get hands-on experience developing software in a “low-risk setting.”

Ngo said he wanted to tackle the challenge because it applies much of what he’s been learning in his classes to a real-life project, one that’s broad and interdisciplinary expands his knowledge. “The biggest thing I’ve learned this summer is how to ask questions, and how to solve them,” he said. Plus, he said, “obviously, I wanted to spend a summer at Bowdoin!”