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School of Mathematical Sciences

Cambridge Surfer Picture Competition


The SURFER competition is running at the Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences.


In collaboration with the Mathematisches Forschungsinstitut Oberwolfach they collect images of algebraic surfaces generated with the Surfer programme.

How does the competition work?(link is external)

Algebraic surfaces are produced by simple equations in three spatial coordinates x,y,z. All points which satisfy these equations are drawn. For example, the equation x2 + y2 + z2 = 1 resulsts in a sphere.

The competition requires creativity, intuition and mathematical skill in order to create equations yourself or to change given equations to produce beautiful images. The images are easily generated with the SURFER programme. You will find the programme and a guidance manual on the SURFER-Installation-Site.(link is external). To submit an image to the competition, first save the image with the “Save” icon (disk) in SURFER bottom right (as .png image format) and then upload it to the competition gallery(link is external) .

Who can take part?

Everybody is invited to take part! You can submit an entry that is just your own work, or you may like to submit a group entry from your class or family. All entries are welcome!

Competition period, judges and prizes

The competition runs from 20 February to 20 March 2010. 

The judging panel will be
- Sir Christopher Frayling: (Chair) Former Rector of the Royal College of Art, former chair of Arts Council England. 

- Conrad Shawcross: Artist and sculptor specializing in kinetic models based on scientific and philosophical ideas. Conrad is currently the Centenary artist-in-residence at the Science Museum, London. 

- Dr Catherine Hobbs: Head of Research at the School of Technology, Oxford Brookes University. 

- Barry Phipps: Fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge, and Curator, The Art of Research and other exhibitions 

- Howard Covington: Chair of the Newton Institute Management Committee 

Overall winner: £50 book token, and goody bag including IMAGINARY Catalogue, IMAGINARY T-shirt, Newton Institute T-shirt, Mug, Pen and postcards. 
Runners up: Goody bag

The judges decision will be final and we will not be able to enter into correspondence

Tips and links

Images that have been created from other competitions can be seen at ZEIT Online and Spektrum der Wissenschaft. Expert tips can be found under: Tips to create algebraic surfaces by Prof. Greuel [PDF 14KB]



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