My Research

You can find my (semi-) up to date vita here.

Circle packing of Virginia
Figure 1. Circle packing of Virginia.

My work is characterized by problems that lie at the intersection of computer science and (constructivist) geometry. Areas that interest me include problems arising from the mathematics of origami design (what can be folded?), circle patterns and inversive geometry (cf. circle packing), and rigidity theory and folding (for example, protein folding), to name just a few. What drives me is a commitment to the classical ideals of Goodness, Truth, and Beauty. On top of that, geometry appeals to me because it is physical–by which I mean that you can build it and feel it and see it and play with it. In some sense this is what makes me a computer scientist over a pure mathematician. My approach is experimental–I’m just as likely to fire up GeoGebra or hack out some code in Atom when approaching a problem as I am to pull out a pad of paper and a pen.


Circle Patterns

Inversive geometry of circle patterns and circle polyhedra.


Circle packing of Bowers
A circle packing of me.

The Liberal Arts

I am a liberal arts professor at a liberal arts school. What does this mean? To be human is to be able to comphrehend universal and eternal concepts such as goodness, truth, justice, and beauty. An animal is bound by its apetites and controlled by its will. It cannot, for instance, choose to set aside some immediate lesser good, for some future higher good. You will never, for instance, see an animal take itself on a diet. If good tasting food is put before a hungry animal, it will eat, even to the detriment of its own future health. As such an animal is not free. To be human is to be free. We are free in as much as our intellects are in dominion over our wills. We alone have the ability to perceive higher and less immediate goods and to direct our wills to choose these rather than lesser, immediate goods. This freedom exists only in equal measure to our intellects dominion over our wills. The goal of liberal education is to cultivate this freedom by practicing what it is that makes us truly human.

The objects of our intellect, goodness, truth, and beauty, are at the core of a liberal education. The highest good of the intellect is to interact with these universals. My purpose in both teaching and advising is to help students move beyond thinking of their education as merely a means to an end, but to value education for its true purpose—to orient the mind towards its highest goods. Rather, education is the life-long search for the good, and my advising is geared towards helping students make the transition from skills-acquirers to seekers of truth. As John Henry Newman understood (the originator of hte idea of the liberal arts), narrow specializations give rise to narrow minds. As such a liberal education should expose students the breadth of human thought and experience.

(To be continued from here when I have time.)

The Liberal Arts Reading List

Short reads

Longer reads

  • Coming soon.

Suggested Courses

  • Coming soon.

Spring 2018

  • Discrete Structures II (CS 327)
  • Programming Languages (CS 430)

Prior Semesters

  • Fall ‘17. Discrete Structures II (CS 327)
  • Spring ‘17. Programming Fundamentals (CS 149)
  • Spring ‘17. Programming Languages (CS 430)
  • Spring ‘17. Computational Geometry (CS 480)
  • Fall ‘16. Data Structures and Algorithms (CS 240)
  • Fall ‘16. Applied Complexity Theory (CS 552)
  • Spring ‘16. Discrete Structures II (CS 327)
  • Fall ‘15. Data Structures and Algorithms (CS 240)
  • Fall ‘15. Programming Fundamentals (CS 139)


You can find my (semi-) up to date vita here.



  • John C. Bowers, Philip L. Bowers, and Kevin Pratt. Rigidity of Circle Polyhedra in the 2-Sphere and of Hyperideal Polyhedra in Hyperbolic 3-Space. Submitted, 2017. [ArXiV Preprint]
  • John C. Bowers and Philip L. Bowers. Ma-Schlenker c-Octahedra in the 2-Sphere. Submitted, 2016. [ArXiV Preprint]
  • John C. Bowers. Faster Reductions for Straight Skeletons to Motorcycle Graphs. Submitted, 2014. [ArXiV Preprint]

Technical Reports




  • In December 2017 my paper with [Philip Bowers], “Rigidity of circle polyhedra in the 2-sphere and of hyperideal polyhedra in hyperbolic 3-space” was accepted to appear in the Transactions of the American Mathematical Society.
  • In November 2017 I gave a talk title “Cauchy’s theorem and rigidity of circle polyhedra in the 2-sphere” at the Undergraduate Mathematics Colloquium at Washington and Lee University.
  • In September 2017 my paper with Philip Bowers, “Ma-Schlenker c-Octahedra in the 2-Sphere” appeared in the Journal of Discrete and Computational Geometry.
  • In September 2017 I co-organized the Virginia Soft Matter Workshop at JMU.
  • In August 2017 my paper with Philip Bowers, “Menger Redux: Embedding Metric Spaces Isometrically in Euclidean Space”, appeared in the journal American Mathematical Monthly.
  • In June 2017, I organized a workshop on Circle Packing, which is hosted here at James Madison University (June 6-9).
  • In summer 2017 I worked with a student as part of our Research Experience for Undergraduate’s (REU) program in computer science. The student blog for the REU program can be found here.
  • In March 2017 I am co-organizing a special session of the AMS southeastern sectional meeting in Charleston, SC. The title of the session is “Rigidity Theory and Circle Packing”.
  • In January 2017 I gave a talk on Cauchy Rigidity of Convex c-Polyhedra at the Joint Math Meeting in Atlanta. This is part of my ongoing on Circle Patterns work with Philip L. Bowers, who also gave a talk on part of our work at the meeting.



  • bowersjc@jmu.edu
  • 540-568-8771
  • 701 Carrier Drive, MSC 4103, Dept. of Computer Science, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA 22807
  • MW 2:30-5p


When I’m not doing computer science or mathematics, you are most likely to find me out on a backcountry mountain bike trail, riding bikes with my kids Pippin and Scout, cooking bacon, making coffee, or debating someone on the finer points of Thomistic metaphysics and theology.

My family and I are members of Blessed Sacrament in Harrisonburg, and occasionally make our way out to JMU CCM.