Fnord can be used as a mathematical visualization system. Basically it provides a purely-functional, collection-oriented language with symbolic differentiation and optimization. You can type in a parametric equation and see the resulting curve and/or surface. You can attach GUI widgets to parameters, and change their values in real time, etc.
Let's take a look at part of the source:
.TH FNORD 1 "Mar 21 1991"
fnord \- visualization of mathematics
.I Xt options
.I Xt options
.I Xt options
is a system for visualizing mathematics. The user describes
mathematical objects such as curves and surfaces; the program computes
and displays them.
Descriptions of objects may depend upon the values of interactive
widgets; when the widgets are changed by the user the objects are
updated in real time.
The language includes symbolic operations such as differentiation and
higher-order functions, thus powerful mathematical operators such as
differential geometry's first and second fundamental forms may be
easily implemented in terms of language primitives.
See the manual in doc/manual for complete documentation.
There are several versions of the executable.
works in a glass tty and does no graphics.
uses X and Xt for graphics output.
uses X, Xt, and Xm (Motif) for graphics input and output.
is the same as
but it does some convenience wrapping.
.B xfnord, xmfnord,
all recognize the standard Xt command line options.
.B ttyfnord, xfnord,
take a list of files on the command line to be read by the
interpreter. The special name "stdin" indicates reading from
There is also a gnu-emacs mode for editing and running fnord programs;
it isn't very good at formatting code, but its execution facilities
are quite useful.
On monochrome systems,
always draws in black, so if you're background is also black, you will
The text editor widget does not work on the sun3.
Developement was done on a sun4, other systems will probably be pretty
See the manual in the doc directory.
Scott Draves (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Nick Thompson (email@example.com) and Matthew Stone (firstname.lastname@example.org) also
contributed; see the manual.
The above program creates a striped cyclide and displays it in a window. The rotation in the fourth dimension is connected to a slider.
Thomas Banchoff (who advised its creation) uses fnord to teach calculus, geometry, and topology (see his projects list).
But what exactly is a Fnord? Here's a look at an excerpt of The Golden Apple by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson:
"Very nice," I said. "But why did you bring me up here?"
"It's time for you to see the fnords," he replied. Then I woke up in bed and it was the next morning. I made breakfast in a pretty nasty mood, wondering if I'd seen the fnords, whatever the fell they were, in the hours he had blacked out, or if I would see them as soon as I went out into the street. I has some pretty gruesome ideas about them, I must admit. Creatures with three eyes and tentacles, survivors from Atlantis, who walked among us, invisible due to some form of mind shield, and did hideous work for the Illuminati. It was unnerving to contemplate, and I finally gave in to my fears and peeked out the window, thinking it might be better to see them from a distance first.
Nothing. Just ordinary sleepy people, heading for their busses and subways.
That calmed me a little, so I set out the toast and coffee and fetched the _New_York_Times_ from the hallway. I turned the radio to WBAI and caught some good Vivaldi, sat down, grabbed a piece of toast and started skimming the first page.
Then I saw the fnords.
The feature story involved another of the endless squabbles between Russia ad the U.S. in the UN General Assembly, and after each direct quote from the Russian delegate I read a quite distinct "Fnord!" The second lead was about a debate in congress on getting the troops out of costa Rica; every argument presented by Senator Bacon was followed by another "Fnord!" At the bottom of the page was a _Times_ depth-type study of the growing pollution problem and the increasing use of gas masks among New Yorkers; the most distressing chemical facts were interpolated with more "Fnords."
Suddenly I saw Hagbard's eyes burning into me and heard his voice: "Your heart will remain calm. Your adrenalin gland will remain calm. Calm, all-over calm. You will not panic. you will look at the fnord and see the it. You will not evade it or black it out. you will stay calm and face it." And further back, way back: my first-grade teacher writing FNORD on the blackboard, while a wheel with a spiral design turned and turned on his desk, turned and turned, and his voice droned on, IF YOU DON'T SEE THE FNORD IT CAN'T EAT YOU, DON'T SEE THE FNORD, DON'T SEE THE FNORD . . .
I looked back at the paper and still saw the fnords.
This was one step beyond Pavlov, I realized. The first conditioned reflex was to experience the panic reaction (the activation syndrome, it's technically called) whenever encountering the word "fnord." The second conditioned reflex was to black out what happened, including the word itself, and just to feel a general low-grade emergency without knowing why. And the third step, of course, was to attribute this anxiety to the news stories, which were bad enough in themselves anyway.
Of course, the essence of control is fear. The fnords produced a whole population walking around in chronic low-grade emergency, tormented by ulcers, dizzy spells, nightmares, heart palpitations and all the other symptoms of too much adrenalin. All my left-wing arrogance and contempt for my countrymen melted, and I felt a genuine pity. No wonder the poor bastards believe anything they're told, walk through pollution and overcrowding without complaining, watch their son hauled off to endless wars and butchered, never protest, never fight back, never show much happiness or eroticism or curiosity or normal human emotion, live with perpetual tunnel vision, walk past a slum without seeing either the human misery it contains or the potential threat it poses to their security . . . Then I got a hunch, and turned quickly to the advertisements. it was as I expected: no fnords. That was part of the gimmick, too: only in consumption, endless consumption, could they escape the amorphous threat of the invisible fnords.
I kept thinking about it on my way to the office. If I pointed out a fnord to somebody who hadn't been deconditioned, as Hagbard deconditioned me, what would he or she say? They'd probably read the word before or after it. "No _this_ word," I'd say. And they would again read an adjacent word. But would their panic level rise as the threat came closer to consciousness? I preferred not to try the experiment; it might have ended with a psychotic fugue in the subject. The conditioning, after all, went back to grade school. No wonder we all hate those teachers so much: we have a dim, masked memory of what they've done to us in converting us into good and faithful servants for the Illuminati.
And why should this be of concern to you?
A fnord is a word that you have, unknowingly since the start of your "education," been conditioned to associate with fear and unease. You have also been conditioned not to notice that they are there. The institution of "fnord conditioning" into American elementary education was first done in the fifties.
Why do this?
Well, if a government or other large organization wants to have some immediate control of a large crowd, they must use preconditioned reflexes. Fear and general unease are always good emotions to evoke when seeking control. The use of fnords in news casting can be used to create either a sense of revultion towards specific people or things (creating bias without your knowing why) or, applied differently, a sense of urgency and importance towards the issues focused upon. The use, or specific lack of use, of fnords in advertising is the reason that the American public only feels happy when they are consuming.
It works somthing like this: Everyday the people are bombarded with thousands of fnords - in newspapers, newscasts, television shows, radio programs, lectures, texbooks, novels, etc. Therefore, as the fnords are creating unease at every turn, a lack of fnords causes great relief - much like taking off a heavy pack after hiking all day. The folks at Madison Avenue realize this all too well, and use it to their benefit. By including absolutely no fnords in their advertisements they create a sense of well being that always occurs, quite inexplicably, whenever their product is advertised. After a while poeple begin to associate well being with that product subconsciously. Then, next time they are shopping, their subconscious urges them to buy that which relieves the unease, and they buy the advertised product.
Sneaky, but very effective. Watch for them.