Source: ACM SIGGRAPH Citation
ACM SIGGRAPH is pleased to present the 2020 Significant New Researcher Award to Alec Jacobson for his outstanding contributions to geometry processing, including shape deformations and robust mesh tetrahedralization.
Alec’s contributions to computer graphics span numerous aspects of 3D content creation. He developed an innovative approach to real-time shape deformation, leveraging theoretical insights about elastic deformation as well as practical considerations of GPU computation. He improved skinning animation by proposing a robust method of automatic weight computation, a technique termed “bounded biharmonic weights.” He then married skinning with elastic energy optimization to yield a method for interactive shape deformation of unprecedented quality and speed. This method, published at SIGGRAPH 2012, has been since implemented in open-source and commercial software, including the Emmy Award-winning Adobe Character Animator.
Numerical solutions to geometric PDEs, as in Alec’s deformation framework, require clean, manifold tetrahedral meshes. In practice, however, meshes often suffer from numerous defects, such as holes, self-intersections and topological noise that preclude their volumetric meshing. Alec’s keen understanding of these practical issues inspired another successful line of work: robust volumetric processing and meshing of surface geometry “in the wild”. Alec developed an elegant 3D generalization of the classic winding number concept to robustly and efficiently determine whether a given point is inside or outside of the given shape. This forms a key component of a robust tetrahedralization algorithm that has been validated on a set of 10,000 unprocessed real-world meshes.
Alec’s work has already shown impact both academically and in practice, as evidenced by successful technology transfers of his geometry processing methods. He is actively driving fruitful collaboration and dissemination by significant open source efforts: the C++ library libigl, whose code and maintenance are spearheaded by Alec and Daniele Panozzo, is used by tens of thousands of developers in academia and industry.
Alec earned his undergraduate and Master degrees at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, New York University (2009, 2011), and his Doctor of Science degree at ETH Zurich under the supervision of Olga Sorkine-Hornung (2013). He spent two years at Columbia University as a postdoctoral fellow, working with Eitan Grinspun. Currently, Alec is an assistant professor and Canada Research Chair in Geometry Processing at the University of Toronto.