Tiles and Patterns of a Field: From Byzantine Churches to User Interface Design

Asaf Degani, Ron Asherov, Peter J. Lu
Proceedings of Bridges 2012: Mathematics, Music, Art, Architecture, Culture (2012)
Pages 175–182


Analysis of geometrical tile patterns from the 5th century (Petra, Jordan) and 14th century (Natanz, Iran) shows how coherent perceptual units are "picked up" by a viewer. For every pattern we identify the "basic" or smallest polygon that can generate the pattern, a polygon grid that can "float" over the pattern, as well as the smallest rectangular tile ("practical tile,") that can be used as a template to physically construct patterns. We then make the link between patterns and interface design, showing how patterns can be used to "house" data and information. A proposed helicopter engine display, inspired by a 15th century tile pattern (from Gazarghah, Afghanistan), is used to illustrate the approach.