Brooks receives 2010 IEEE VGTC Virtual Reality Career Award

March 25, 2010

brooksDr. Frederick P. Brooks, Jr., Kenan Professor of Computer Science at UNC-Chapel Hill, received the 2010 IEEE VGTC Virtual Reality Career Award at this year’s IEEE Virtual Reality conference, the premiere academic conference in the world on Immersive Virtual Environments, held in Waltham, Mass., March 20-24. The award honors Brooks for his lifetime contributions to virtual reality research and practice.

For more than 30 years, Brooks has led a laboratory that fosters scientific and technical advances in virtual reality, providing effective solutions to real user problems. His work in molecular modeling and docking applications led to many innovations in 3D interaction, especially in developing and using haptic feedback. His recent research has contributed to the understanding of design tradeoffs in immersive virtual reality systems that affect the quality of the user’s experience.

Born in 1931 at Chapel Hill, Brooks earned an A.B. in Physics from Duke. His Harvard Ph.D. was under Howard Aiken, architect of the first American programmable computer. In the 1950s, he was an architect of IBM’s Stretch and Harvest supercomputers, and coined the term computer architect. In the 1960s, he was IBM’s Corporate Project Manager for the System/360 development, including the System/360 computer family (“mainframe”) hardware, and the Operating System/360 software.

Brooks founded UNC-Chapel Hill’s department of computer science in 1964 and chaired it for 20 years. His best-known books are The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering, (1975, 1995) and Computer Architecture: Concepts and Evolution (with G.A. Blaauw, 1997). The Design of Design: Essays from a Computer Scientist was published in March 2010. His team’s research at Carolina has been in interactive computer graphics: molecular graphics, 1965-1999; scientific visualization and manipulation, 1965-present; and virtual environments, 1970-present in collaboration with Henry Fuchs, Dinesh Manocha, and Mary C. Whitton. The team has done extensive study of both active and passive haptic displays. They developed a quite compelling “pit” demo; and for some years have used it to study quantitatively the relative effectiveness of various illusion factors on presence measures. (For example, latency matters a lot; photorealism very little.) Driving applications have been design of structures and submarines, scientific visualization, military training, and rehabilitation of patients with asymmetric gaits. He has advised 37 Ph.D. graduates.

Brooks has received the National Medal of Technology, and the Turing Award of the Association for Computing Machinery. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the (British) Royal Academy of Engineering. He has served on the National Science Board and the Defense Science Board.

The IEEE VGTC Virtual Reality Career Award was established in 2005 and is given each year to an individual to honor that person’s lifetime contribution to virtual and augmented reality. IEEE Computer Society is the world’s leading organization of computing professionals.

Scientist recognized for work in geometric computing, computer graphics and robotics

December 3, 2009

Professor Dinesh Manocha of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was recognized by an international computer organization for contributions to geometric computing and applications to computer graphics, robotics and Graphics Processing Unit computing.

Manocha, the Phi Delta Theta/Matthew Mason Distinguished Professor of Computer Science in the College of Art and Sciences, was named a fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM).

Manocha is an expert in computer graphics and geometric modeling. His research on mathematical foundations and applications has been used in scientific computations, robotics, 3-D computer graphics and virtual reality by the scientific community, the computer industry and the entertainment world.

ACM named 47 new fellows for their contributions to computing technology that have created a broad range of innovations for industry, commerce, entertainment and education. The fellows were chosen from the world’s leading industries, universities and research labs. They will be honored at the annual ACM Awards Banquet on June 26, 2010.

Manocha, who joined the UNC faculty in 1992, earned a bachelor’s degree from the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, in 1987, and master of science and doctorate degrees from the University of California at Berkeley in 1990 and 1992, respectively.

ACM is the world’s largest educational and scientific computing society.

Graduate student Narain receives Intel PhD Fellowship

September 30, 2009

Graduate student Rahul Narain, in the department of computer science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is the recipient of one of this year’s Intel PhD Fellowships, as announced by Intel on September 17.

The Intel PhD Fellowship program selects students who do research in one of Intel’s technical areas: Hardware Systems Technology and Design, Software Technology and Design, or Semiconductor Technology and Manufacturing. Recipients receive a generous fellowship award that covers stipend, tuition, travel and related expenses for nine months.

Narain’s dissertation topic is Multi-Level Simulation of Complex Phenomena, which he is working on under his advisor, Ming Lin. His research focuses on enabling the efficient animation of complex phenomena such as human crowds, fluids and granular materials, while retaining visually important small-scale detail.

The Intel PhD Fellowships are considered very prestigious, and winning students are recognized as being tops in their areas of research. This year, 26 fellowships were awarded and Narain was the only recipient from the state of North Carolina.

Lazebnik receives Microsoft Research New Faculty Fellowship

July 14, 2009

lazebnikSvetlana Lazebnik, assistant professor of computer science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has been named a recipient of a Microsoft New Faculty Fellowship Award.

The awards, announced July 14 by Microsoft Research, recognize and support early-career professors engaged in innovative computing research. Five recipients are selected each year from a pool of about 100 nominees. Each fellow receives an unrestricted cash gift of $200,000.

Lazebnik, who joined the department in July 2007, conducts research in the area of computer vision, a discipline that deals with how machines interpret images.

“This fellowship will enable me to explore a lot more and do things that are maybe more speculative or long-term in my area of research,” Lazebnik said. “This is a very generous gift and extremely helpful for young faculty, especially at a time when funding is tight.”

Lazebnik’s research focuses on designing effective representations of content in large digital image collections, such as images on the Internet. One of the goals of her work is to allow users to search a large collection of digital images based on what can be seen in the picture, as opposed to only searching textual tags that describe the picture.

“We are very proud of Lana’s cutting-edge research in computer vision and applaud this recognition of the impact she has had so early in her career,” said Anselmo Lastra, chairman of the department of computer science.

Lazebnik is the second UNC faculty member to receive the award. Associate Professor Wei Wang, who does research in the area of bioinformatics, received the fellowship in 2005, its inaugural year.

Lazebnik holds a Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is a 2009 recipient of a Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award from the National Science Foundation and was honored for excellence in teaching by the department’s Computer Science Student Association in 2008.

Brooks honored with Harvard Centennial Medal

June 27, 2007

Frederick P. Brooks, who founded UNC’s computer science department, recently received the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Centennial Medal from Harvard University.

Harvard’s Centennial Medal was first given in June 1989 on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Graduate School .The medal is awarded for “contributions to society as they have emerged from one’s graduate education at Harvard.” Brooks, the Kenan Professor of Computer Science, was one of four 2007 recipients.

A pioneer in computer science, Brooks worked as a graduate student under Howard Aiken, the inventor of the early Harvard computers. He later joined IBM, where he worked during the 1950s and 1960s. He was the project manager for the development of IBM’s System/360 family of computers and the Operating System/360 software. For this work he received a National Medal of Technology in 1985 jointly with Bob O. Evans and Erich Bloch of IBM.

In 1964, Brooks founded UNC’s computer science department and chaired it for 20 years. Brooks’ principal research is in real-time, three-dimensional computer graphics or “virtual reality.” His research has helped biochemists solve the structure of complex molecules and enabled architects to “walk through” structures still being designed.

Brooks earned his Ph.D. in applied mathematics (computer science) from Harvard in 1956.

Web site: More about the 2007 Centennial Medal winners.

Carolina team to compete in world finals of computer programming contest

February 6, 2007

Feb. 6, 2007–Three Carolina undergraduate students will travel to Tokyo during spring break to compete in the world finals of a collegiate computer programming contest being held March 12-16.

Seniors Jared Brothers, Philip Kelley and Tao Xie will compete against 87 teams from around the world in the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) International Collegiate Programming Contest, sponsored by IBM. They’ll be accompanied by their coach Dr. Kevin Jeffay, a computer science professor in UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences.

The team name is Pantone278, the official color for Carolina blue, according to UNC Trademarks and Licensing. (Graphic designers use the Pantone color system to communicate specific colors to clients and printers.)

Brothers came up with the Pantone278 team name, but Kelley is the fastest typist, and the team relied on his keyboarding as part of their strategy when they won the regional competition.

“Because each team had at their disposal only one computer, our strategy was to assign Philip, who can type the fastest, the role of flawlessly implementing solutions, while Tao and I mulled over the conceptual aspects of different problems, thereby obtaining solutions to give to Philip,” Brothers said.

The students competed in the regionals — the Mid-Atlantic USA Programming Contest — in Durham last October, and placed third in order to advance to the finals. The team was pitted against more than 130 teams to solve eight computer programming problems as quickly as they could. It was the third year Brothers, Kelley and Xie competed in the regional competition, but the first time they competed on the same team.

This is the second time a team from UNC has made it to the world finals. In 2002, a team of five undergraduates received an honorable mention at the finals.

Department ranked 10th on CHE’s Faculty Scholarly Productivity Index

January 16, 2007

The Chronicle of Higher Education recently published the results of a study using a new standard for measuring doctoral programs called the Faculty Scholarly Productivity Index. The Department of Computer Science at UNC did very well on this index, coming in at #10. The department also came in notably higher on some specific measures such as citations per faculty (#5), and average value of new grants (#4).

You can view more information about the study, including tables with the information breakdown, at the Chronicle of Higher Education website.

Dr. Daniel A. Reed named UNC’s first Kenan Eminent Professor

December 17, 2003

REED, DAN 12/03Reed named to first Kenan Eminent Professorship, will direct new interdisciplinary Institute for Renaissance Computing

CHAPEL HILL – Dr. Daniel A. Reed, one of the world’s foremost leaders in high-performance computing and the key architect of many national computing initiatives, has been named the first Kenan Eminent Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He will also direct a new interdisciplinary computing institute based at Carolina, with strong collaborative ties to Duke and N.C. State universities.

Reed, whose appointment was just approved by the UNC Board of Trustees, begins work in Chapel Hill in January. He will teach and conduct research in Carolina’s nationally recognized department of computer science, part of the College of Arts and Sciences. He will also hold faculty appointments at Duke and N.C. State.

Reed comes to Carolina from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he has served in many roles over the past 20 years. He spearheaded more than $100 million in construction to create a new information technology quadrangle on the Illinois campus. Most recently, he served as director of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), a 400-person research institute with a mission to develop computing infrastructure in support of scientific research. NCSA was the birthplace of the modern Web browser that sparked the Internet revolution.

At Carolina, Reed will be the founding director of the Institute for Renaissance Computing, a venture supported by the three universities that will explore the interactions of computing technology with the sciences, arts and humanities. The institute also will partner with business leaders to enhance the competitiveness of North Carolina industries. A “Renaissance team” approach will bring scientists, engineers, artists and institute staff together to explore interdisciplinary approaches to scholarship, discovery and education.

The $3 million Kenan Eminent Professorship, the largest endowed professorship in the university’s history, is part of a $27 million commitment to the Carolina First campaign from the William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust.

“Professor Reed epitomizes the high quality of creative scholarship that the William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust envisioned when this grant was made to the university,” said Richard Krasno, executive director of the trust. “The trust is proud to be associated with a scholar of Professor Reed’s distinction and congratulates the university on his appointment.”

The Kenan Trust pledged to create five eminent professorships at Carolina and match contributions from other donors to create five additional eminent professorships.

“I am delighted that Carolina has been able to attract such a world-class teacher and scholar as Dan Reed, who sets the standard that we shall expect in making future appointments to Kenan Eminent Professorships,” Chancellor James Moeser said. “This perfectly illustrates our commitment to attracting and retaining the brightest and best to Carolina, leading in the creation of new knowledge and teaching and mentoring students.

“We are also grateful for the participation of Duke and N.C. State in the creation of the new Institute for Renaissance Computing, yet another example of the growing collaboration of the three Triangle universities and their value to North Carolina’s economic development,” he said.

Faculty support is a major goal of the $1.8 billion Carolina First campaign. The campaign seeks $350 million for endowed professorships, research support, funds for travel and other means of attracting and retaining outstanding faculty. The university seeks to create 200 new endowed professorships during the campaign. To date 109 have been established. The $3 million Kenan Eminent Professorships were created at the launch of the campaign to address Carolina’s urgent need to recruit and hire the top scholars and teachers in their fields.

Reed’s work focuses on the design of very high-speed computers and on providing new computing capabilities for scholars in science, medicine, engineering and the humanities. At Illinois, he directed both NCSA and the National Computational Science Alliance, a nationwide partnership of more than 50 institutions to advance scientific discovery via high-performance computing. Reed is a principal investigator for the National Science Foundation’s TeraGrid project, an effort to build and deploy the world’s largest, most comprehensive computing system for open scientific research. Recognized for his teaching skills at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Reed will teach undergraduate and graduate students in the department of computer science.

“The opportunity to teach at Chapel Hill, and to build an internationally recognized, broadly based research institute, made this an irresistible opportunity,” Reed said. “Because many recent biological discoveries are computer-aided, one of my interests is marshaling the computing talent in the Research Triangle to enrich computing collaborations with the area’s great biomedical talent. The biological revolution has just begun, and I am excited about the future of bioinformatics and its impact on health and medical care.

“Beyond biology, we want to unlock computing’s true power to enrich and drive discovery across the entire range of human activities,” he said. “The Research Triangle campuses offer enormous potential for adapting technology to serve the arts and humanities, to catalyze scientific discovery, to shape public policy and to enrich the human experience via the novel application of computing and collaboration technology.”

Reed is a member of President George W. Bush’s Information Technology Advisory Committee, charged with providing advice on information technology issues and challenges to the president, a member of the Biomedical Informatics Expert Panel for the National Institute of Health’s National Center for Research Resources and on the board of directors of the Computing Research Association, which represents the interests of the major academic departments and industrial research laboratories. He recently testified before Congress on the future of high-end computing. He also chairs the policy board for the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center, the Department of Energy’s high-performance computing center for scientific research.

One of his priorities at Urbana-Champaign was introducing K-12 students to science and engineering, with a goal of increasing diversity in those fields. The Institute for Renaissance Computing will engage in similar outreach, he said.

Reed received an IBM Faculty Development Award in 1984 and an NSF Presidential Young Investigator Award in 1987.

Reed served as an assistant professor of computer science at Carolina in 1983-84. He joined the faculty at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1984 as an assistant professor of computer science and headed the department, one of the most highly ranked computer science departments in the country, from 1996 to 2001.

In 2001, the University of Illinois named Reed a recipient of the Edward William and Jane Marr Gutgsell Professorship in recognition of his distinguished scholarship.

An Arkansas native, he received his doctorate in computer science in 1983 from Purdue University. He holds a master’s in computer science from Purdue and a bachelor’s in computer science from the University of Missouri at Rolla.