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20 June, 2001

For further information:
Sheila Hoffmeyer/Ann Kilhoffer-Reichert
+1.312.644.6610 x5811
+1.312.245.1083 fax


ACM SIGGRAPH is recognizing Andrew Witkin with the 2001 Computer Graphics Achievement Award for his pioneering work in bringing a physics-based approach to computer graphics. Witkin will receive his award this summer at SIGGRAPH 2001, 12 - 17 August 2001, at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

Witkin's papers on active contours (snakes) and deformable models, variational modeling, scale-space filtering, space time constraints, and dynamic simulation are considered landmarks that have been inspirational to others and have shaped the field in such different areas as image analysis, surface modeling, and animation.

Witkin received his Ph.D. at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the psychology department. His thesis was about the perception of surface orientation from texture statistics. At Schlumberger Palo Alto Research, Witkin developed the technique of "Scale-Space Filtering" which is a method for analyzing signals based on the changes in their inflection points under smoothing. The work has become a classic in the multi-resolution signal analysis literature.

In the early 80s, the vision and graphics research communities were largely disjoint. Witkin was one of the first to bridge the divide in a series of papers that included his 1987 prize winning paper "Constraints on Deformable Models: Recovering 3D Shape and Non-rigid Motion" and "Snakes: Active Contour Models" both co-authored with Michael Kass and Demetri Terzopoulos. These papers popularized the idea that computer vision techniques could provide interactive "power assists" to a human operator creating computer graphics models.

While still at Schlumberger, and subsequently as a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, Witkin has done notable work on the use of physically-based modeling techniques not only for animating rigid or deformable objects, but also as an interaction technique for a range of problems including constrained geometric modeling and camera control (with Michael Gleicher) and visualization of implicit surfaces (with Paul Heckbert). In 1992, with Michael Kass, Witkin won a Golden Nica from Ars Electronica for his use of physically based modeling of reaction-diffusion equations to synthesize organic looking textures. In 1988 Witkin, with Michael Kass, introduced the idea of using control theory in computer graphics with their "Spacetime Constraints" paper and showed that optimization could be used to direct physically-based character animation.

Recently, Witkin has become interested in the very difficult problem of clothing simulation. With David Baraff at Carnegie Mellon University, Witkin developed the clothing simulator which forms the basis of Maya Cloth, and which was used in the production of "Stuart Little," among other films. With David Baraff and Michael Kass at Pixar Animation Studios, Witkin developed the clothing and hair simulator used in the forthcoming Pixar/Disney film "Monsters, Inc."


SIGGRAPH 2001 will bring over 40,000 computer graphics and interactive technology professionals from six continents to Los Angeles for the week-long conference. A comprehensive technical program and special events focusing on research, art, animation, and interactive technologies are planned. SIGGRAPH 2001 includes a three-day exhibition of products and services for the computer graphics and interactive marketplace from 14-16 August 2001. ACM SIGGRAPH, the leading professional society for computer graphics and interactive techniques, sponsors SIGGRAPH 2001. Information on ACM SIGGRAPH membership and other conferences and activities can be found at

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