Pure Data (or Pd) is a real-time graphical programming environment for audio, video, and graphical processing. Pure Data is commonly used for live music performance, VeeJaying, sound effects, composition, audio analysis, interfacing with sensors, using cameras, controlling robots or even interacting with websites. Because all of these various media are handled as digital data within the program, many fascinating opportunities for cross-synthesis between them exist. Sound can be used to manipulate video, which could then be streamed over the internet to another computer which might analyze that video and use it to control a motor-driven installation.
Programming with Pure Data is a unique interaction that is much closer to the experience of manipulating things in the physical world. The most basic unit of functionality is a box, and the program is formed by connecting these boxes together into diagrams that both represent the flow of data while actually performing the operations mapped out in the diagram. The program itself is always running, there is no separation between writing the program and running the program, and each action takes effect the moment it is completed.
The community of users and programmers around Pure Data have created additional functions (called "externals" or "external libraries") which are used for a wide variety of other purposes, such as video processing, the playback and streaming of MP3s or Quicktime video, the manipulation and display of 3-dimensional objects and the modeling of virtual physical objects. There is a wide range of external libraries available which give Pure Data additional features. Just about any kind of programming is feasible using Pure Data as long as there are externals libraries which provide the most basic units of functionality required.
The core of Pure Data written and maintained by Miller S. Puckette (http://crca.ucsd.edu/~msp/) and includes the work of many developers (http://www.puredata.org/), making the whole package very much a community effort. Pd runs on GNU/Linux, Windows, and Mac OS X, as well as mobile platforms like Maemo, iPhoneOS, and Android.
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