Neil Dodgson

Overview

I have been undertaking research in stereoscopic displays (since 1992), subdivision surfaces (since 2000) and aesthetic imaging (since 2002), with forays into other 3D modelling, imaging, and animation applications. In 2007, I was please to be awarded a higher doctorate (Doctor of Science) by the University of Cambridge in recognition of my research. In the same year, the University also recognised my excellence in teaching, with a Pilkington Prize.

Research

Over the past four years, my group's key research achievements have been solving a thirty-year old problem in subdivision surfaces that could have a major impact on the CAD industry, the analysis of other significant issues in subdivision, and the development of a new line of research in aesthetic imaging.

Subdivision surfaces

Since 2000, I have collaborated with Dr Malcolm Sabin on research into the subdivision method of geometric modelling. Subdivision surfaces and NURBS are alternative mechanisms for representing 3D shapes. Both were developed in the 1970s. NURBS quickly became the industry standard in computer-aided design (CAD). Subdivision was not practicable until the late 1990s, owing to its large memory requirement. When sufficient memory became available, it was rapidly adopted by the computer animation industry, owing to the ease of design it allows, and is essentially the standard tool there today. The CAD industry has not adopted subdivision, partly because it is not fully compatible with their existing NURBS paradigm, and partly because subdivision introduces a number of artefacts that are irrelevant when making images to view on a movie screen, but which are critical when machining parts in the real world. My research group has successfully addressed these problems.

Our most significant recent result, published at SIGGRAPH 2009, is in creating a subdivision method that is a true super-set of NURBS, something that had not been done in the thirty years since subdivision was invented. This is a major breakthrough. We expect that this will finally allow CAD vendors to incorporate subdivision into their systems, with all its benefits, without having to throw away any of their existing surface models or processes.

Our other successes are in developing methods that improve the behaviour and the look of the standard subdivision methods and in analysing the underlying structure of subdivision.

Our group has published more than twenty-five papers and we have had six Research Associates and four PhD students working on various aspects of subdivision over the past decade.

Aesthetic Imaging

With my PhD student, Mark Grundland, and others, I have built up a portfolio of work in aesthetic imaging. This is the development of algorithms that provide the ability to modify images to improve the aesthetic appeal, and also the development of analysis tools for judging aesthetic quality. While aesthetics has a long history, this is a relatively recent area for computer graphics. I organised and chaired the fifth Eurographics symposium on Computational Aesthetics in 2009 and I am organising and will co-chair the sixth, in 2010 in London. Our key recent research results are a fast colour-to-grayscale conversion algorithm, which has been independently judged to be superior to competing methods, a fresh approach to the cross-dissolve problem, and an analysis of Bridget Riley's early Op art, which led to more general results on how humans respond to geometric patterns.

Stereoscopic Displays

I have been pioneering work in stereoscopic displays since 1992. My contributions include software, optical design, cameras, hardware and the theory of autostereoscopic displays. I have published over twenty papers in the area. Since 2000, I have been one of the international organising committee of the annual Stereoscopic Displays & Applications conference, the premier venue for presenting results in the field. I chaired the conference in 2006 and 2007; I will chair again in 2010. I have written various invited papers surveying the field. Based on my experience I was invited to speak on a SIGGRAPH 2005 panel on "The Ultimate Display."

In the 1990s, I was heavily involved with building the prototypes of the Cambridge autostereoscopic display and with the early attempts to commercialise it.

Other Research Contributions

In addition to these two main areas of research, I have lead a number of smaller projects in computer graphics and image processing. My publications have been in subjects as diverse as psychology-based human figure animation, novel geometric modelling paradigms, graphic design, texture editing, and image compression.

Personal Research Strategy

My personal research strength is in analysing existing bodies of work and formulating underlying theory, generally with a mathematical bent. For example, I was the first to propose a mathematical analysis which explains just what the viewer sees on the screen of a multi-view autostereoscopic display. This work is being used by commercial display developers.

With Ioannis Ivrissimtzis and Malcolm Sabin, I produced an analysis of both the support and the classification of subdivision schemes.

Research Group

I am one of the leaders of the twenty-strong Graphics & Interaction research group (Rainbow). When I was appointed to my current position, in 1995, the group was only six people. In collaboration with Prof. Peter Robinson, I have built the group from this small base to its current strength. We have since been joined by Dr Alan Blackwell (in 2000).

Research Management

I am directly responsible for four current PhD students and two Research Associates. I aim to have up to six PhD students under my supervision at any one time. To date, twelve PhDs have successfully graduated under my supervision. My former PhD students and former Research Associates now work in a range of research organisations around the world.

Over the past decade, I have managed a number of research grants bringing in over £1.5M in grant funding to the department. My research funding has come from the EPSRC (UK Government), the European Union, the UK's Royal Society, and industry. I currently employ one full-time Research Associate and one part-time Senior Research Associate.

Research Support & Administration

I have chaired conferences in both Stereoscopic Displays & Applications and Computational Aesthetics.

I have organised two successful workshops in Cambridge: Eurographics UK 1999 and MINGLE 2003. I was the chief editor of the proceedings book for the latter conference, published by Springer.

I have been on the international programme committee of several conferences, including Eurographics, Pacific Graphics, Graphite, Afrigraph, and Stereoscopic Displays & Applications. I was one of the international scientific management committee for the EU-funded MINGLE project. I was on the editorial advisory board of the journal Computers & Graphics for five years. I review for a range of graphics, image processing and optics journals.

Teaching

At the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory, I have lectured both of the computer graphics courses in the Computer Science Tripos for over a decade. The introductory course, Computer Graphics & Image Processing, covers all of the standard material and had been extensively revised over the years. The advanced course, Advanced Graphics, was designed from scratch and presents a range of material of directly relevance to my group's research work. Student feedback shows that these two courses are amongst the most popular offered by the department. I have recently handed the introductory course to another staff member, and developed a new course on Research Methods for Masters students

I was Head of Teaching for the Faculty of Computer Science & Technology, 2005-2008. Over the three years I reviewed the entire undergraduate course, revised the first year syllabus, renegotiated our collaborations with the Natural Science and Mathematics courses, devised a plan for revision of the second year, and was a major player in the design and introduction of a new Masters course. I was active at a University level, as a member of the General Board's Education Committee, reviewing and approving course content across the entire University.

Using my broad educational background in physics, mathematics and computer science, I undertake small-group tuition on a range of courses, including functional programming, probability, and digital electronics.

General Administration

In addition to my contribution to the Faculty Teaching Committee and the University Education Committee, I have been an effective member of several other committees. I have sat on the Faculty Boards of both Computer Science & Technology and Mathematics, the Appointments Committee and the Degree Committee of my own Faculty, and on cross-departmental and cross-college working groups. I co-ordinated the Computer Laboratory's teaching quality assurance for several years and was the academic co-ordinator for the most recent external accreditation by our professional bodies, the IET and the BCS. I have previously held a range of administrative roles within my department. Two key roles were setting up and managing the system which coordinates tuition for all third year undergraduates (1998-05) and revising and managing the department's website (1997-2005).

Qualifications & Professional Membership

I am a member of ACM SIGGRAPH, and Eurographics. I am a fellow of the Institution of Engineering and Technology. I have a BSc with first class honours from Massey University in New Zealand, a PhD and an ScD from the University of Cambridge, and I am a chartered electrical engineer (CEng).