Short course on software for "Traité de Lutherie"

Short course on software for "Traité de Lutherie"

January 8-9, 2015, Brandeis University.

This short course is a follow-up to François Denis’s "Traité de Lutherie: The Violin and the Art of Measurement”, and based on the great ideas and methods of his significant book. We all recognize François’s remarkable contributions. Now I would like to see if some well-designed computer software could complement these seventeenth-century ideas, rediscovered and interpreted in the twenty-first century, with some useful twenty-first century technology.

"There are only 5 ideas in Computer Science, and by the time you finish this course, you will know 2 of them."

Course instructor: Harry Mairson (Volen 257, 781-736-2724),

Lecture notes for the short course pdf

A paper presented at the 2014 VSA conference, (`Functional Geometry and the Traité de Lutherie'), J. Violin Soc. Am.: VSA Proceedings (Fall 2015), Vol. XXVI, No. 2. pdf

Slides from the presentation I did at VSA (September 2014). There is a step-by-step explanation of pentagon drawing-a good "toy problem"-that may be instructive in figuring out the geometry language. (This is a big file.) pdf

Slides from the presentation I did at Oberlin Violin Workshop (June 2015). These are a bit more practical and "hands on" with some constructive examples. (This is also a big file.) pdf

A paper I wrote on this project for a conference on functional programming languages (`Functional Geometry and the Traité de Lutherie', ACM International Conference on Functional Programming, September 2013). Since I wrote this, I've made the code simpler, and easier to read and use. pdf

Geometry engine rkt

A brief guide to using the geometry engine pdf

When you download the code for the geometry engine, you'll want to save it in the same directory as the drawing you're working on. That way, when the code for your drawing references the code for the geometric procedures, it will know where to find them.

Procedures for drawing arcs (cheat sheet) pdf

Calibrating ruler (for testing output on large printer, without wasting a lot of paper) pdf


  • Template for the Amati violin code rkt

  • Drawing a pentagon pdf
  • Pentagon code template rkt

  • Drawing a pentagon inscribed in a circle pdf
  • Inscribed pentagon code template rkt
  • More pentagonal exercises (from Andrew Sutton's book, "Ruler and Compass: Practical Geometric Constructions") jpg


  • Violin by Andrea Amati [Denis, pp. 114-129] pdf code

  • Alto viola by Andrea Guarneri [Denis, pp. 162-171] pdf code

  • Violoncello by Josephus 'Filius Andrea' Guarneri [Denis, pp. 182-191] pdf code

  • Violoncello by Domenico Montagnana ('Sleeping Beauty', 1739) [Denis, pp. 192-202] pdf code

  • Violoncello by Antonio Stradivari ('Cristiani', 1700) pdf code

  • Violoncello by Antonio Stradivari ('Mediceo', 1690) pdf code

  • Violoncello by Antonio Stradivari ('Countess of Stanlein', 1707) pdf code