Professors Gott and Vanderbei Create A Novel Flat Map of the Earth

Friday, Feb 19, 2021
by Department of Astrophysical Sciences

The groundbreaking work of Princeton’s J. Richard Gott III, Emeritus Professor of Astrophysical Sciences, and Robert Vanderbei, Professor of Operations Research and Financial Engineering, is featured in a recent article on Princeton University’s news page. The article highlights their unique double-sided flat disk map that shows both sides of the Earth and has minimal measurement errors and visual distortions. The genesis for the two-sided map was inspired by Richard Gott’s study of envelope polyhedra.

Professors Gott and Vanderbei collaborated on this project with David Goldberg, Professor of Physics at Drexel University. The trio set out to create a flat map reducing the errors made in representing distances between pairs of points. They achieved this by minimizing the six types of map distortions: isotropy, area, flexion, skewness, distances and boundary cuts. Well-known existing maps of the world such as the Mercator and the Winkel Tripelprojections have much higher measurement errors than the distance error rate of 0.881 for the flat map created by the Gott-Vanderbei-Goldberg team.

The entire news article can be read here.