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1997 CG Achievement Award: Przemyslaw Prusinkiewicz

Source: ACM SIGGRAPH Press Release, 1997

The 1997 ACM SIGGRAPH Computer Graphics Achievement Award is presented to Przemyslaw Prusinkiewicz for his work pertaining to modeling and visualizing of biological structures.

Dr. Prusinkiewicz's interest in computer graphics began in the late 1970s. By 1986 he originated a method for visualizing the structure and growth of plants based on L-systems, a mathematical theory of development of multicellular organisms introduced by the late Professor Aristid Lindenmayer. Professor Prusinkiewicz, his students, and collaborators transformed L-systems into a powerful programming language for expressing plant models, and extended the range of phenomena that can be simulated. Specifically, parametric L-systems facilitate the construction of models by assigning attributes to their components. Differential L-systems make it possible to simulate plant growth in continuous time, which is essential to the animation of developmental processes. Environmentally-sensitive and open L-systems provide a framework for simulating the interactions between plants and their environment. The power of these concepts is demonstrated by the wide range of biological structures already modeled, from algae to wild flowers to gardens and stands of trees competing for light.

In addition to the important extensions of L-systems, Professor Prusinkiewicz's research also includes studies of fundamental problems of morphogenesis - emergence of patterns and three dimensional forms in nature. This includes the modeling of spiral phyllotactic patterns in plants, and developmental patterns and forms of seashells.

Professor Prusinkiewicz received his M.S. (1974) and Ph.D. (1978) degrees in Computer Science from the Technical University of Warsaw. His initial research interests were in digital design, fault-tolerant computing, computer arithmetic and computer music. He held Assistant Professorships at the Technical University of Warsaw (1974-1979) and at the University of Science and Technology of Algiers (1979-1982). He joined the University of Regina in 1982 and was appointed to his current position as Professor of Computer Science at the University of Calgary in 1991. He has also held Visiting Professorships at Yale University and l'Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, and was a visiting researcher at the University of Bremen and the Center for Tropical Pest Management in Brisbane.

As a result of his research, plants can be modeled with unprecedented visual and behavioral fidelity to nature. The book, "The Algorithmic Beauty of Plants," his contributed chapters to other books, and many papers demonstrate that plant models can be combined artistically into stunning and inspiring images. Growth of realistic and artificial life forms now can be included in computer graphics animation. His modeling methods have been incorporated into commercial products and reproduced in public-domain programs.

Dr. Prusinkiewicz's work stands out for its scholarly approach and for his collaboration with biologists, agronomists, horticulturists, theoretical computer scientists, and mathematicians. Biologists, inspired by these thoroughly researched models, have initiated international research programs including a study of the impact of microclimates on the growth of crop plants, the modeling of interactions between plants and insects for crop pest control, and a study of the relationships between plant genetics and the development of plant architecture.

These achievements produced a large impact by making complex natural environments a visible part of computer graphics. The impact can only increase as these environments become richer and even more realistic. In recognition of these contributions ACM SIGGRAPH is pleased to present the ACM SIGGRAPH Computer Graphics Achievement Award to Przemyslaw Prusinkiewicz.

Selected References

  • Prusinkiewicz, P., Lindenmayer, A., Hanan, J. S., Fracchia, F. D., Fowler, D. R., de Boer, M. J. M., and Mercer, L.. The Algorithmic Beauty of Plants, 1990 and 1996.

  • Mech, R. and Prusinkiewicz, P.. Visual Models of Plants Interacting with Their Environment, in Holly Rushmeier, editor, SIGGRAPH 96 Conference Proceedings, Annual Conference Series. ACM SIGGRAPH, Addison Wesley, August 1996.

  • Prusinkiewicz, P., James, M., and Mech, R.. Synthetic Topiary, SIGGRAPH 94 Conference Proceedings, Annual Conference Series. ACM SIGGRAPH, Addison Wesley, August 1994.

  • Prusinkiewicz, P., Hammel, M., and Mjolsness, E.. Animation of Plant Development, in SIGGRAPH 93 Conference Proceedings, Annual Conference Series. ACM SIGGRAPH, Addison Wesley, August 1993.

  • Fowler, D., Meinhardt, H., and Prusinkiewicz, P.. Modeling Seashells. In Computer Graphics (SIGGRAPH 92 Conference Proceedings), volume 26. Addison Wesley, July 1992.

  • Fowler, D. and Prusinkiewicz, P.. A Collision-based Model of Spiral Phyllotaxis. In Computer Graphics (SIGGRAPH 92 Conference Proceedings), volume 26. Addison Wesley, July 1992.

  • Prusinkiewicz, P., Lindenmeyer, A., and Hanan, J.. Developmental Models Of Herbaceous Plants For Computer Imagery Purposes. In Computer Graphics (SIGGRAPH 88 Conference Proceedings), volume 22. Addison Wesley, August 1988.

  • Prusinkiewicz, P.. Graphical Applications of L-systems. In Graphics Interface 1986 Conference Proceedings.

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