My research has ranged across many aspects of the fields of computer graphics and visual perception. My Ph.D. study focused on constructing computational models of brain mechanisms for visuomotor coordination. I quickly realized that one of the best ways to understand how my models were working was to create visualizations of their activity, and this led me to the fascinating field of computer graphics.
Within graphics, my favorite area was the application of physics to animation and modeling, a discipline that was just beginning to blossom as I entered the field in 1985. I had some early success working on models of the draping behavior of cloth.
Later in my research career I came full circle and became interested in the perceptual optimization of visualizations -- i.e. how visualizations can be designed to maximize the ability of the viewer to understand the important aspects of the objects, processes, or phenomena being displayed. Nothing new here, illustrators have been perfecting these ideas for centuries -- but providing emperical evidence for the efficacy of design choices, and doing this within a computational context is new and exciting.
As part of the perceptual work, we have been looking at three particular areas of interest: texturing of layered surfaces to optimally reveal shape, visualizing predictions made under uncertainty by direct display of a carefully chosen subset of an ensemble of predicted outcomes, and 3D eyetracking enabling us to understand where a user is looking in space under stereo viewing.
I have worked on three book projects during my career.
Foundations of Physically Based Modeling and Animation is the latest (2016), coauthored with John Keyser. It provides an introduction to the field, meant to bring the reader to the point where they can access the extensive research literature.
Cloth Modeling and Animation, coedited with David Breen, covers the state of that art circa 2000. Some of the later technical chapters are long since outdated. However, the early chapters are more timeless, covering the very different structures of woven and knit cloth, and their implications for modeling and simulation.
Depth Perception in Frogs and Toads is a 1989 monograph coming from my Ph.D. research. It contains an interesting model of how binocular depth cues may couple with monocular depth cues from lens accommodation (i.e. focus) to disambiguate depth estimation for prey catching.
Donald H. House