Coordinates and Reference Frames

Coordinates?  Press a few buttons on a computer and they are automatically imported, exported, rotated, translated, collated, annotated and served up in any format you choose with no trouble at all.  There really is nothing to it.  Why have a seminar about coordinates?   It’s a good question really.  Computers are astounding in their ability to make the mathematics behind coordinate manipulation transparent to the user.  This seminar is not much about that sort of mathematics.  But it is about coordinates and coordinate systems.  It is about understanding how these systems work, and how they sometimes don’t work.  It is about how points that should be in New Jersey end up in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean even if the computer has done nothing wrong.  And that is, I suppose, the answer to the question from my point of view.  Computers are currently very good at repetition and very bad at interpretation.  People are usually not so good at repetition.  We tend to get bored.  But we can be very good indeed at interpretation, that is if we have the information in our heads to understand what we are interpreting.  This seminar is about providing some of that sort of information on the subject of coordinates and coordinate systems.


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