Alumni News

Packing spheres of two different sizes

How do you densely pack a bunch of spheres? Ask an algorithm

Four hundred years ago, no less a sailor than Sir Walter Raleigh set mathematicians the challenge of packing cannonballs onto the deck of a ship for maximum quantity. The astronomer Johannes Kepler offered a solution, later known as Kepler’s Conjecture – a mathematical equation we see today in supermarkets that stack oranges into pyramids.