Surfaces with Natural Ridges

David Brander and Steen Markvorsen
Proceedings of Bridges 2015: Mathematics, Music, Art, Architecture, Culture (2015)
Pages 379–382


We discuss surfaces with singularities, both in mathematics and in the real world. For many types of mathematical surface, singularities are natural and can be regarded as part of the surface. The most emblematic example is that of surfaces of constant negative Gauss curvature, all of which necessarily have singularities. We describe a method for producing constant negative curvature surfaces with prescribed cusp lines. In particular, given a generic space curve, there is a unique surface of constant curvature K = -1 that contains this curve as a cuspidal edge. This is an effective means to easily generate many new and beautiful examples of surfaces with constant negative curvature.