This year's Katayanagi Prizes in Computer Science, presented by Carnegie Mellon University in conjunction with the Tokyo University of Technology, have been won by Pat Hanrahan and Doug L. James for innovations in computer graphics.
Even if the names of these two computer scientists are not immediately known to you, you will probably be familiar with their work in the movies such as Avatar, Hugo, The Dark Knight, Finding Nemo and Star Trek.
In the official announcement that this years prizes have been won by Stanford University's Pat Hanrahan and Cornell University's Doug L. James, Randal E. Bryant, dean of the Carnegie Mellon School of Computer Science, states:
"Although the two prize winners were selected independently, they both have made major contributions to the field of computer graphics. Their work has yielded many benefits, ranging from more realistic animation for Hollywood movies to improved modeling and visualization of real-world systems and new approaches to high-performance computing."
Pat Hanrahan, the Canon USA Professor of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering at Stanford,will receive the Katayanagi Prize for Research Excellence. This award recognizes an established researcher with a record of outstanding, sustained achievement and includes a $10,000 honorarium.
At Pixar Animation Studios in the early '80s, Hanrahan was the chief architect of RenderMan, still widely used in the movie industry to create imagery of virtual scenes and characters. He has also developed illumination algorithms for simulating realistic lighting, and improved physical models of materials such as skin and hair. Two major themes of his work have been building high-performance graphics systems, including general methods for programming graphics processing units (GPUs), and visualization, such as one of the first volume rendering algorithms for displaying two-dimensional images of 3D datasets.
The Katayanagi Emerging Leadership Prize, which includes a $5,000 honorarium goes to Doug L. James, an associate professor of computer science at Cornell and a former assistant professor of computer science and robotics at Carnegie Mellon. James was involved in developing Wavelet Turbulence software which generates realistic swirling smoke and fiery explosive effects and has been used in more than two dozen popular movies. his research interests include physically based animation, reduced-order physics models and multi-sensory physics applications, such as sound rendering and haptic force-feedback rendering.
The prizes, which were inaugurated in 2007, are endowed by Japanese entrepreneur and education advocate Koh Katayanagi, who founded Tokyo University of Technology and several technical institutions in Japan. Previous winners include Erik Demaine (2008), Donald Knuth (2009) and Barbara Liskov (2011).
The prizes will be presented during public lectures given by the recipients at Carnegie Mellon on September 12th and 26th.