Computer Graphics in the Age of AI and Big Data

Seminar | DEI Meeting Room 0.19 | 14:30

Richard (Hao) Zhang,

Simon Fraser University


Computer graphics is traditionally defined as a field which covers all aspects of computer-assisted image synthesis. An introductory class to graphics mainly teaches how to turn an explicit model description including geometric and photometric attributes into one or more images. Under this classical and arguably narrow definition, computer graphics corresponds to a “forward” (synthesis) problem, which is in contrast to computer vision, which traditionally battles with the inverse (analysis) problem.

In this talk, I would offer my view of what the NEW computer graphics is, especially in the current age of machine learning and data-driven computing. I will first remind ourselves several well-known data challenges that are unique to graphics problems. Then, by altering the above classical definition of computer graphics, perhaps only slightly, I show that to do the synthesis right, one has to first “understand’’ the task and solve various inverse problems. In this sense, graphics and vision are converging, with data and learning playing key roles in both fields.
A recurring challenge, however, is a general lack of “Big 3D Data”, which graphics research is expected to address. I will show you a quick sampler of our recent works on data-driven and learning-based syntheses of 3D shapes and virtual scenes. Finally, I want to explore a new perspective for the synthesis problem to mimic a higher-level human capability than pattern recognition and understanding.


Hao (Richard) Zhang is a professor in the School of Computing Science at Simon Fraser University (SFU), Canada, where he directs the computer graphics (GrUVi) lab and the Professional Masters Program in Visual Computing. He obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Toronto and MMath and BMath degrees from the University of Waterloo. Richard’s research is in computer graphics with special interests in geometric modeling, shape analysis, 3D content creation, as well as computational design and fabrication. He was a past editor-in-chief of Computer Graphics Forum, a SIGGRAPH Asia 2014 course chair, and paper chairs for SGP 2013, Graphics Interface 2015, CGI 2018, among others. He received a National Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada Discovery Accelerator Award in 2014, best paper awards from SGP 2008 and CAD/Graphics 2017, a Faculty Research Excellence Award at SFU in 2014, and a National Science Foundation of China (NSFC) Outstanding Overseas Scholar Award in 2015. He has been a visiting professor at Stanford University, Shandong University, and Shenzhen University.

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