Powerpoint and C

I know this is not the usual combination, but it worked for me.

During the summer of 2007, Microsoft switched file formats, from the obfuscated binary DOC, XSL and PPT, to the more accessible DOCX, XLSX, and PPTX. These are in fact ZIP files, holding together text files. One consequence is that one could edit lines and circles within a post-2007 Powerpoint file, with a text editor. In fact, you may create slides with complex geometric shapes in a plain text editor.

I was running these tedious experiments, where subjects would be shown flickering displays of circles or asymmetric hexagons, and they would have to quickly extract the "average" shape. The displays were shown on OS 8 computers, which were said to have the most accurate timing abilities of all still-working PCs, due to their large holdovers from the time when computers could not prioritize tasks.

In preparation for her Festschrift, Anne asked me to make Powerpoint slides showcasing the ongoing experiments. Thanks to that real-time business, I wasn't possible to just hit Print Screen, and get pictures. The Mac would act on a PrintScreen keypress only after the polygons were off the screen. So I replicated the Matlab shape-painting code in C program, and I asked it to output text files with coordinates compatible with PPTX drawings.

That C code outputs the irregular hexagons shown in her National Medal of Science presentation. (Jump to 1:47 if it doesn't do it automatically.)

Our subjects had the illusion of seeing the average shape, even when it was not shown. Unfortunately, the paper was rejected once, I moved on to grad school, and Anne retired soon after, before being able to get any helpful collaborator on board. I am posting here the Matlab code (bit slow) and the equivalent C code (faster) that generated sets of polygons, spitting them out, together with their average, in PPTX format. I am looking for someone who will help me get that paper out.