July 27, 2016

IST Austria Computer Science Professor Chris Wojtan receives prestigious ACM SIGGRAPH Award

Significant New Researcher Award 2016 for realistic physically-based fluid animation in the field of computer animation to Chris Wojtan | 3 publications of Chris Wojtan’s research group published at annual top conference of computer graphics ACM SIGGRAPH in Anaheim, USA

During the annual top conference of the Special Interest Group for Computer Graphics (SIGGRAPH) of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) IST Austria Professor Chris Wojtan was awarded with the prestigious Significant New Researcher Award 2016. The jury based the decision on Wojtan’s achievements throughout the last years using numerical methods to simulate natural phenomena in a realistic and yet time- and cost-effective way. His research group developed fundamental new algorithms which allow a visualization of fluid dynamics (e.g. waves, water drops) or fracture of brittle material displaying fine, small-scale details in a large-scale behavior on the one hand while reducing memory usage and computing time on the other hand. In addition to the recognition of his achievements with the ACM Award, the ongoing success of his research group was underlined by three further publications at the 43rd ACM SIGGRAPH conference held in Anaheim, USA, from July 24 to July 28, 2016.

The US American Wojtan received his PhD in computer science from Georgia Institute of Technology for which he also got The Sigma Xi Best PhD Thesis Award in 2011. He was a recipient of the James Scholarship in 2003, of the Presidential Fellowship in 2004, and the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship in 2005–2008. He joined IST Austria in 2011 as Assistant Professor and was promoted to the youngest Full Professor at IST Austria after a successful tenure evaluation. Since then, he received the Microsoft Visual Computing Award in 2013, an ERC Starting Grant for his project “Big Splash: Efficient Simulation of Natural Phenomena at Extremely Large Scales” in 2014, the Eurographics Young Researcher Award, and the Günter Enderle Best Paper Award from Eurographics, both in 2015. Asked about the ACM SIGGRAPH Award he now received, Chris Wojtan modestly states: “I was really surprised when I received the notification for the award, but I am happy that all the hard work was recognized by the ACM.”

On top of the ACM SIGGRAPH Award for their supervisor, two PhD students of Chris Wojtan published articles in this year’s ACM Transactions on Graphics. Morten Bojsen-Hansen presented a new algorithm that allows a seamless re-integration of a small simulation of local changes within a larger simulation, e.g. adding or deleting a rock including changes of wave patterns in an ocean scene. In another publication, PhD student David Hahn introduces a new way for simulating brittle fracture. The selective removal of certain parts of the computation for fracture lines leads to a much faster, but still satisfying result for the animation of cracking material. The recently developed algorithms might be taken up by game developers or engineers for future applications. In addition to the publication on brittle fracture, Wojtan’s PhD student contributed to a second publication presenting a new simulation method where only relevant parameters of a liquid surface are computed, which still allows a simulation of the whole liquid volume. The adaption of the concerned equations resulted in a cost effective, yet feasible animation replacing current methods where super computers are required.

Asked about the success of his even young group members, the young professor answers: “I really enjoy working with young, talented PhD students and postdocs in an inspiring environment that keeps us searching for answers to fundamental question of computer graphics.” To make the strong research focus of visual computing at IST Austria more visible, the professors working in related fields but on different aspects of visual computation launched the Visual Computing @ IST Austria platform, which serves as central resource for developments at the institute regarding this topic. Recent publications, description of current projects, and videos can be easily accessed. If interested, please visit visualcomputing.ist.ac.at

References and links to videos:
Generalized Non-Reflecting Boundaries for Fluid Re-Simulation, M. Bojsen-Hansen and C. Wojtan. ACM Transactions on Graphics (SIGGRAPH 2016).
http://visualcomputing.ist.ac.at/publications/2016/GNRBfFRS/

Fast Approximations for Boundary Element Based Brittle Fracture Simulation, D. Hahn and C. Wojtan. ACM Transactions on Graphics (SIGGRAPH 2016).
http://pub.ist.ac.at/group_wojtan/projects/2016_Hahn_FastFracture/

Surface-Only Liquids, F. Da, D. Hahn, C. Batty, C. Wojtan, and E. Grinspun. ACM Transactions on Graphics (SIGGRAPH 2016).
http://www.cs.columbia.edu/cg/surfaceliquids/

SIGGRAPH Award Ceremony Talks on Youtube:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ay-zlzw8aaI

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