Source: ACM SIGGRAPH Citation
Lingqi Yan’s dissertation presents a unified comprehensive view of visual appearance modeling for computer graphics rendering. Each chapter could be a Ph.D. thesis in its own right. The work has produced stunning new visual imagery that has been the highlight of recent SIGGRAPH conferences, and has already led to significant, practical impact and adoption in industry. Yan’s dissertation includes a record-breaking 7 first-authored SIGGRAPH and ACM Transactions on Graphics papers.
The dissertation provides breakthrough contributions in three areas: the modeling of specular microstructure or glints, fur reflectance, and fast Monte Carlo rendering. The section on glints, based on papers from 2014, 2016, and 2018, describes how to analytically evaluate specular reflections, and how to perform full wave-optics simulations of light transport, ideas that have been adopted in commercial products such as AutoDesk Fusion360 and Rise of the Tomb Raider 2016. The next section develops a model of animal fur, tested with measurements and simulations, that was used in Weta Digital’s “War for the Planet of the Apes,” and then both simplifies and generalizes the model, and shows how to perform global illumination computations with it. The third section, on global illumination, exhibits a major breakthrough in denoising of Monte Carlo renderings, and other filtering-based improvements in rendering. These and other related developments have inspired modern Monte-Carlo sampling and denoising pipelines, including NVIDIA’s latest software (Optix5, 2017) and hardware (RTX GPUs, 2018), which have made real-time raytracing a practical reality for the first time.
Yan has done far more than solving open problems in the field; instead he has taken computer graphics in entirely new directions, beyond the realm of what was generally believed to be possible. In the process, he has opened new sub-fields, revolutionized our current thinking about rendering and visual appearance, and produced novel, striking imagery. He has already authored more than ten SIGGRAPH and Transactions on Graphics papers, including the seven in his dissertation. The SIGGRAPH community recognizes Lingqi Yan for these extraordinary achievements with the 2019 ACM SIGGRAPH Doctoral Dissertation Award, and looks forward to even more impressive results in the years to come.
Lingqi Yan received his B.E. in Computer Science and Technology from Tsinghua University in 2013. He received his Ph.D. in 2018 from U.C. Berkeley, advised by Professor Ravi Ramamoorthi. During his Ph.D. studies, he was an intern at Disney, Autodesk, Weta and NVIDIA. He was awarded the NVIDIA fellowship in 2017 and UC Berkeley’s CV Ramamoorthy Distinguished Research Award in 2018. He is currently an assistant professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Honorable Mentions for the 2019 Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award:
Angela Dai, Stanford University
Hao Su, Stanford University
Adriana Schulz, MIT