A bounding box, if I understood correctly is a box that frames the box in which we work. It allows to align the box on the left, on the right, in the center.

Its use can be found in LaTeX package like pgf/tikz, graphicx, tcolorbox and certainly in other LaTeX packages as well as in the Adobe Post Script reference manual.

We do not find this notion, except error of my part in LaTeX2e written by L. Lamport.

From the historical point of view who (or what computer language) introduced this notion?

Is the concept of bounding box equivalent in all LaTeX packages? in all languages?

  • I suggested moving this from tex.se as it's about the concept rather than anything tex-specific (see the penultimate paragraph for the underlying question)
    – Chris H
    Apr 25 '18 at 9:43
  • THis question should probably be at computer graphics.se
    – joojaa
    Apr 25 '18 at 10:10
  • @joojaa, quite possibly, but my understanding (no sources for now) is that the concept in a sense predates computer graphics, but the mathematical treatment might be good there. As both graphic arts theory and history and layout, printing and typography are on-topic here it seems like a good fit.
    – Chris H
    Apr 25 '18 at 10:37
  • @ChrisH possibly since its a computer science concept. But it does not include movable type. Atleast the google ngram book search does not find any uses for the phrase piror to 1968 Which indicates that it is a modern computation concept
    – joojaa
    Apr 25 '18 at 10:40
  • 4
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because this doesn't fall under the expertise of graphic designers and has been re-asked on computergraphics.se.
    – WELZ
    Apr 25 '18 at 12:13

Do you want history? Let's do that.

The inventor was probably... Gutemberg on 1440. Or probably the Chinese inventor Bi Sheng around 1040.

The press has different features, one feature is the press itself. And by that, I mean pushing a wood block to make a sandwich with paper inside and some engraving on the other side.

But the other feature was "movable-character". Loose characters to use them letter by letter to form words.

If you have a bunch of them to make a paragraph, you better have a way to contain them, a boundary where the fonts do not are spilled over the floor.

It was a box, made of wood, with a little smaller depth size than the fonts.

That is the concept.

Is the concept the same in all languages... pretty much yes. Probably not for the Romans engraving marble walls, but after the invention of the press, yeap.

  • 2
    Each wooden letter block themselves is also an explicit bounding box. Even an O must be square, else it won't fit next to other characters. (It would roll away...)
    – Jongware
    Apr 25 '18 at 21:03
  • You are confusing the chase with the bounding box. The chase holds everything (cuts, type, leading, furniture, etc.) in place. It constitutes a press sheet to be printed, or half-sheet if duplexing (printing two sides) work-and-turn.
    – Stan
    Apr 26 '18 at 2:48
  • However, if like to point out that these boxes were not called bounding boxes. But cases. Bounding box is clearly a term coined by mathematicians, computer science being a form of mathematics. So history of bounding boxes is not a history of movable type. But if you extrapolate what the user is asking then thats different. But then you probably have to start your history in antquity since many heiroglyph writings have the same property.
    – joojaa
    Apr 26 '18 at 5:19
  • The concept has since evolved as LaTeX packages like Tikz and tcolorbox have redefined this concept by generalizing it. See p 175 section 15.8 of tikz manual version 3.0.1a and p 82 section 4.15 of tcolorbox manual version 4.13.
    – AndréC
    Apr 26 '18 at 5:28
  • 1
    @AndréC no they really havent, when computer scientists came a long they redesigned the way type was set. UP untill that point people were setting type per character, by line and so on. They werent really thinking about bounding boxes but baselines and margins. See a text is not every apparently a box as such. Anyway if you were asking the history of layout then you shouldnt ask about bounding boxes which is nit really a printing term and devoid of meaning. Because thats not a historical fact, but a mathematicians concept
    – joojaa
    Apr 26 '18 at 11:53

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