interviewed 30 July 2003 by Kartic Subr
Mike Bailey is a Senior
Principal Scientist at the
San Diego Supercomputer Center and
an Adjunct Professor in both the Applied Mechanics and
Engineering Sciences and the Computer Science departments
at the UC San Diego. Mike teaches
the Introduction to Computer Graphics course that has
become a fundamental at SIGGRAPH.
|What first drew
you to computer graphics?
My background was originally in Mechanical
Engineering, where I developed an intense interest in computer-aided
design methods. My senior year, I took a graphics course
as a technical elective and fell in love with it! Graphics
is a wonderful bridge between pure computational methods
and real applications work, such as science and engineering,
I have always really liked that.
|Do you have any
favorite CG mentors?
||Dr. Dave Anderson at Purdue, who taught that
technical elective and later became my graduate advisor, was
the one to draw me into the field. I have him to thank for
that. Dick Mueller, long-time SIGGRAPH-goer, and 1984 conference
co-chair, was the one to draw me into SIGGRAPH conference work.
Beyond that, I mostly have role models, whose work I have
admired and whose personalities and dedication I would like
to emulate. This includes people like Don Greenberg, Andy
Van Dam, Jim Foley, Steve
Cunningham, Jim Thomas, Tony
Maureen Stone, and a whole host of others.
|What was the first
time you contributed to SIGGRAPH?
I was on the courses committee in 1983. I
had a poster paper accepted in 1978 and spoke in a course
was your first SIGGRAPH? Which was most intense? Why?
||My first SIGGRAPH was Conference #2, Bowling
Green, OH, in 1975. I was 5 years old. <laughs>
My most intense SIGGRAPH was probably 1990 in Dallas. I
was co-chairing the 1991 conference. The conference before
your own conference is very intense because you have just
this one chance, when you can actually find everyone, to
set hundreds of things in motion. My fellow co-chair, Carol
Byram, and I didn’t sleep much that week. As a chair,
your own conference is far less stressful than the one before
to SIGGRAPH are you most proud of?
||There are a bunch of things that I am pleased
with. But, there are three things that I am especially proud
of, all related to support for continuing education and educators
within the SIGGRAPH conference:
My work as Courses Chair. I have been conference courses
chair five times. When I first did this, the courses were
an afterthought in the conference schedule. They were not
well-defined, there was no official selection process, the
notes were more like handouts, and the budget was out of
control. I defined what the courses should be, initiated
a proposal process for suggesting courses, initiated peer
review for those proposals, made the notes more into something
that people wanted to keep and refer to, and brought the
budget under control. Along the way I also initiated the
computer evaluation of the courses. At the time, the SIGGRAPH “Technical
Program” meant papers and panels. I convinced the EC
that the courses were important enough that “Technical
Program” should also include courses, and that the
appointment of the Courses Chair should require EC approval.
Today the courses are an integral and technologically well-respected
part of the SIGGRAPH conference. There is now definite prestige
in getting a course accepted, which fuels the innovation
in new courses. SIGGRAPH courses have become one of the most
important ways of acquiring new information in the field
in a timely manner.
Forcing the creation of a Conference Educator’s Track.
When I applied to be 1991 conference co-chair, I said that
I wanted to be known as the “education co-chair”.
It was a term meant in jest, but the idea was serious. I
wanted the conference to take more responsibility for doing
things for the educators in the SIGGRAPH community. Now,
I didn’t know exactly what that meant, but I walled
off a section of budget and convinced Steve Cunningham to
chair that venue. He invented an educator track that was
both useful and affordable. More importantly, it showed how
important this was and that it should be supported by the
conference. It still exists to this day. The result was all
Steve’s doing, but initiating the activity and picking
the right person to do it was mine.
Doing the first Course Note CD-ROM experiment. As an Executive
Committee member in 1990, I obtained funding for the first
CD-ROM course notes experiment. I obtained the course notes,
had them scanned and placed on a CD-ROM. In those days, there
was no PDF, and SIGGRAPH did not require an electronic submission
anyway, so scanning was the only option. The result was crude,
but demonstrably useful. It showed that a CD-ROM for course
notes was definitely the way to head. It also showed that
it was time to move to an electronic submission format because
scanning was not going to cut it in the long run.
developments in CG do you look forward to?
I get a special thrill watching computer graphics
become easier for everyone to accomplish. In the 1970’s,
you had to be pretty hard-core serious to get anything done.
This was bad because so many people, who probably had excellent
applications, just gave up on it. I love it at SIGGRAPH when
I see someone from a field I know almost nothing about talking
about their use of graphics. The technology I am really watching
now is the programmable hardware shaders. Right now, it is
again just the hard-core people who can do it, but I am sure
that this will follow the same pattern as before, and soon
there will be some very exciting and unexpected uses for
|What do you think
is new at SIGGRAPH 2003 - technically ?
|What do you think
as the biggest challenge for the next year in your area of
Huge Data Sets. That
is why I think that Vertex/Pixel shaders are going to be
of key importance. The GPU based processing might however
not play as important a role in Scientific Visualization,
since we cannot afford the luxury of coarse approximations