What is graphics research at Cornell?

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What is graphics research at Cornell?

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Faculty and researchers.

PhD Students

Research Groups

Related Areas

Related researchers.

Cornell is a leader in computer graphics, an interdisciplinary area that draws on many specialties including algorithms, physics, computation, psychology, computer vision, and architecture. The Cornell graphics tradition has roots going back to the earliest days of the field, when the Program of Computer Graphics (PCG) was established in 1974 and went on to make breakthrough contributions in areas including light reflection models, physics-based rendering, and visual perception for graphics. Today graphics research at Cornell flows across boundaries to cover a broad area of graphics and related topics, with research in graphics and vision in the Computer Science department , research in rendering and architecture in PCG , and research in human-computer interfaces in the Information Science program, all densely interconnected.

Current research in graphics covers a broad range of topics across the field. Examples include global illumination, scattering models, volume scattering, interactive rendering, cloth simulation, acoustics for graphics, content creation, multiview geometry, computational photography and videography, human visual perception, and appearance capture. Our research addresses applications ranging from visual effects, animation, and games to architecture, surgery simulation, advertising, photography, and photo browsing.

Kavita Bala specializes in computer graphics and computer vision, leading research in visual recognition, search, and discovery; material modeling and acquisition, physically-based rendering; and material perception. In her computer graphics research she uses knowledge of human perception to develop new rendering algorithms for large-scale models for architectural visualization, and new algorithms for material acquisition and representation of complex materials like cloth. In her computer vision research, she develops algorithms for material recognition, fine-grained visual search for products in ecommerce, and large-scale visual discovery for planet-wide events, from global fashion discovery to event detection of forest fires in satellite imagery. Applications of her work include virtual prototyping, sustainability, virtual-reality training, architectural planning, and e-commerce.

Donald Greenberg , the founder of the Program of Computer Graphics , has been researching and teaching in the field of computer graphics from 1966. During the last 15 years, he has been primarily concerned with research advancing the state-of-the-art in computer graphics and with utilizing these techniques as they may be applied to a variety of disciplines. His specialities include hidden surface algorithms, geometric modeling, color science, and realistic image generation. Donald Greenberg is the Jacob Gould Schurman Professor of Computer Graphics and the Director of the Program of Computer Graphics.

Abe Davis  works on a range of topics in graphics, vision, and HCI, with a focus on how to apply work in these fields to new problems and application spaces.  His work ranges across video and image analysis, photography, video editing, augmented reality, and computational fabrication, with applications from civil engineering to video editing and scene modeling to quilting.

Steve Marschner works on modeling materials for graphics , ranging from their optics to thier mechanics, often using techniques that draw from computer vision. For rendering, material modeling is the fundamental problem of understanding and simulating the interaction of light with materials. Recent work has focused on models for the materials that are important for realistic virtual characters—skin, cloth, hair—as well as other materials with complex three-dimensional structure. These materials can often be rendered as volumes of structured, translucent material. Optics works together with shape and motion to define the appearance of a material, so another focus is on realistic models for the mechanics of materials, particularly cloth.

Noah Snavely is primarily interested in analyzing large image collections to automatically recover the geometry and appearance of real-world scenes, and in using this derived structure to create better visualizations of photo collections and 3D scenes. Noah is particularly interested in leveraging the vast, rich collections of imagery available on the Internet to recreate the world in 3D. This research encompasses problems in both computer vision and computer graphics, including structure from motion, multi-view stereo, graph algorithms for analyzing large image collections, image-based rendering, and 3D navigation interfaces. Noah is also interested in creating systems and techniques that make it simple to create 3D models using a hand-held camera.

Cornell Graphics and Vision Group

Cornell Bowers CIS - College of Computing and Information Science

Crowdsampling the Plenoptic Function

What is graphics research at Cornell?

Learning the Depths of Moving People by Watching Frozen People

What is graphics research at Cornell?

Learning Material-Aware Local Descriptors for 3D Shapes

What is graphics research at Cornell?

MegaDepth: Learning Single-View Depth Prediction from Internet Photos

What is graphics research at Cornell?

Low-shot Learning from Imaginary Data


Animating Elastic Rods with Sound


CS 4620 - Introduction to Computer Graphics

General information, prerequisites.

4620 requires solid linear algebra, but it’s okay to take it concurrently with 2940 if you have to. It is somewhat less work than CS 3110 - Data Structures and Functional Programming .

Topics Covered

3-4 homeworks: 4-6 hours a piece

3 projects: 10-15 hours a piece

Final raytracer project: 25 hours (broken into 2 parts)

In Spring 2018: 7 projects, split into homework and coding portions. Time investment was similar as before; final raytracer project probably didn’t take as long, though, depending on how well you understood the concepts.

In Fall 2020: Weekly discussion section from 3:00 - 3:50, on either Wednesday or Thursday.

General Advice

If you’re taking the class, it’s good to take the practicum as well because it’s not significantly more time (3 mid-sized projects) and you do some other cool stuff. You don’t really learn much new material (the class meets rarely and when it does, is usually just more office hours), but it will give you a better understanding of things discussed in lecture by having you implement them.


Graphics is a really fun and rewarding class. By nature, the final results can be shown to anyone and give a greater “cool factor” than say, explaining how you came up with a solution to something in Algorithms. A lot of people take CG for granted in movies, but every single pixel of those special effects scenes is calculated by a ton of complex math. This class gives a glimpse of how all of that is actually put together and created.

This class was redone in Fall 2020, with assignments being given in javascript and python (and at one point, GLSL). There were a fair number of problems due to the assignments being created as the course progressed, but it should be mostly ironed out for future semesters. - Fall 2020

Past Offerings

Edit this page on GitHub: classes/CS4620.md

Recent Events

Recent papers, recent news, april 18, 2017.

Alumni, industry leaders celebrate Don Greenberg

On April 12, 2017, industry leaders, academics, and former students celebrated the legacy and continuing impact of Donald Greenberg '55, Director of the Program of Computer Graphics and Jacob Gould Schurman Professor of Computer Graphics.

Article by Diane Lebo Wallace, published in the Cornell Chronicle.

Read the full article here!

April 25, 2016- Updated May 30, 2017

Candice Zhao, a student in the ART 2907 Fall 2015 course, tries Oculus’ headset goggles. A 2-D version of the immersive 3-D scene is shown on the screen behind her.

Visual Imaging in the Electronic Age

An Interdisciplinary Course Bridging Art, Architecture, Computer Science, and Engineering Offered in Fall 2017

The following is a brief description of some of the topics covered in the course, “Visual Imaging in the Electronic Age”. The material is being presented since I have received so many questions regarding the content of this novel multidisciplinary course. I hope the short explanations help. -Don Greenberg

Please read the full article about the course here

Computer graphics to help streamline green building design

By Anne Ju, Cornell Chronicle

Making a building meet sustainability requirements usually involves engineers prescribing fixes -- from building orientation to ventilation systems -- long after the architects have drawn up their designs.

Supported by federal stimulus funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), an interdisciplinary research group at Cornell is creating computer simulation software that would streamline this process, allowing architects to employ sustainable design principles from day one.

The team, which includes faculty from computer science, mechanical engineering and architecture, has received a three-year, $1.83 million grant from the Department of Energy to continue work on their project. Their 3-D simulation tool lets a building designer proactively include such information as temperature, the behavior of light and total energy use at the start of the design process. Such factors should help cut down on the expense of consultation and the labor of going back to change a building's design, said Don Greenberg, the Jacob Gould Schurman Professor of Computer Graphics (also a professor in architecture and at the Johnson School) and one of the project leaders.

"You can have the greatest impact in the early stages of the design process," Greenberg said. "You can make the big changes and see where it's going." Others on the project are Kevin Pratt, assistant professor of architecture, and Brandon Hencey, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering.

The key to sustainable design is tightly coupling a building to its environment, Pratt said. For example, a well-designed building would use natural ventilation during warm weather to eliminate the use of air conditioning. The simulation tool will allow designers to immediately understand all aspects of the building environment and to cut energy use and, ultimately, the carbon footprint.

"If you're just generically designing a building, you always have the option of putting mechanical systems in and pumping it full of energy," Pratt said. "But that's not really a viable design process anymore."

The collaboration was first funded in 2008 by the Cornell Center for a Sustainable Future Academic Venture Fund. The grant allowed the researchers to create a working prototype of their software. In their next phase of research, the group plans to continue perfecting their system, as well as test it with architecture firms and on campus buildings.

Recent advances in computer graphics technology will likely accelerate these types of simulation computations by orders of magnitude in the near future, Greenberg said. The program now functions on a cloud of computers at Cornell's Program of Computer Graphics running multiple parallel simulations. In several years, said Pratt, most architecture firms will have the computing capability to run such complex models in their offices.

The group is also looking to expand their software to display the simulation results on large-scale multitouch devices, as opposed to just a standard interface. A prototype is being worked on by Lars Schumann, a member of the research team.

The stimulus funds will support seven years of student research, and roughly two postdoctoral associate positions. To date, Cornell in Ithaca has received 159 ARRA awards, totaling more than $113 million.

I am a (relatively new) assistant professor of Computer Science at Cornell University. I specialize in computer graphics, computer vision, human-computer interaction (HCI), as well as a random sampling of other topics.

The Before Times:

I completed my PhD at MIT in 2016, where I was advised by Fredo Durand , then worked as a postdoctoral researcher at Stanford University with Maneesh Agrawala until 2019, followed by a 1-year postdoc at Cornell Tech in NYC. I am now an assistant professor of computer science at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY.

Current office hours are by appointment for non-course related things. For CS4620 students, I generally schedule office hours so that they are shortly before assignment due dates; refer to the course website for the calendar.

Interested in joining the group?

More info can be found on my Joining The Group page.

Update SIGGRAPH 2021: A Mathematical Foundation for Foundation Paper Pieceable Quilts

Our work on the geometry of paper piecing quilt designs , with first author Mackenzie Leake was published at SIGGRAPH 2021!

Update CVPR 2020 Oral: Visual Chirality Nominated for Best Paper at CVPR2020

Our work on Visual Chirality, with Zhiqiu Lin , Jin Sun , and Noah Snavely is an oral at CVPR, and one of the nominees for best paper! Check out the webpage and video to learn more about the work.

Update ECCV 2020 Oral: Crowdsampling the Plenoptic Function

Our work on crowdsampling the plenoptic function was selected for ECCV Oral! Learn from Internet photos to create interactive space-time views of popular attractions! With self-supervision!

Work with Zhengqi Li , Wenqi Xian , Noah Snavely . Check out the webpage and video to learn more.

Select Research Highlight Videos

I work on a range of topics in graphics, vision, and HCI, with most of my research focusing on how to apply work in these fields to new problems and application spaces. Below you will find a sampling of videos that describe different projects I've worked on. For a longer list of my publications, see my publications page or CV . My TED 2015 talk is also a good introduction to my work on visual vibration analysis.

Click on the thumbnails below to see videos summarizing different research projects. More can be found on my publications page .

Speaking at TED 2015

Research Highlight

Visual Rhythm and Beat

Siggraph 2018.

Research Highlight

Interactive Dynamic Video

Siggraph asia 2015.

Research Highlight

Computational Video Editing

Siggraph 2017.

Research Highlight

Visual Microphone

Siggraph 2014.

Research Highlight

Computational Bounce Flash

Siggraph asia 2016.

Research Highlight

Visual Vibrometry

Cvpr 2015 & pami 2016, winter 2019.

Summer 2018:

Visual Rhythm & Beat Results

[project page].

Visual Beat Result

Visual Rhythm And Beat (Overview Video)

A video giving an overview of the project and what we can do..

Visual Beat Result

Spot The Dancing Robot

Remix of spot the dancing robot from boston dynamics..

Visual Beat Result

Psy's Best Friend

This example was a lot of fun to create. i found this youtube channel for dancing nathan – a dog that does this strange flailing trick on a chair, which kind of looks like off-beat dancing..

Visual Beat Result

Kitty Shake Shake It

Cats dancing. enough said..

Visual Beat Result

If you're happy and you know it

The owners of the coffee shop i regular have a todler who is often watching this show when i go to get my coffee. they also like rap music, so i made this..

Visual Beat Result

Barney Don't Need No Education

Barney and friends retimed to “another brick in the wall” by pink floyd..


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  1. Graphics

    Cornell is a leader in computer graphics, an interdisciplinary area that draws on many specialties including algorithms, physics, computation, psychology

  2. Cornell Graphics and Vision Group

    Cornell Graphics and Vision Group · Crowdsampling the Plenoptic Function · Learning the Depths of Moving People by Watching Frozen People · Learning Material-Aware

  3. CS 4620

    This site is not sponsored by or endorsed by Cornell or the Computer Science department at Cornell. It is entirely student-run and student-written. © 2016-2023

  4. Kavita Bala describes Cornell's pioneering computer ...

    A major quest in computer graphics research has been to understand and virtually model the appearance of the real world. In this lecture—the

  5. Cornell University Program of Computer Graphics

    The program now functions on a cloud of computers at Cornell's Program of Computer Graphics running multiple parallel simulations. In several years, said Pratt

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    University run Makerspace that offers services such as 3D printing, virtual reality modeling, and poster printing. Education. Cornell University Graphic

  7. Research Labs

    Computer Graphics Group at Cornell University · Graphics and Imaging Lab at University of Washington · Computer Graphics Group at Brown

  8. Abe Davis -- Abe Davis

    I am a (relatively new) assistant professor of Computer Science at Cornell University. I specialize in computer graphics, computer vision, human-computer

  9. Rendering

    The Cornell Box was constructed at the Program of Computer Graphics to facilitate developing the fundamental physical underpinnings of computer-based

  10. Kavita Bala

    Bala's research expertise is in computer vision and graphics. ... Currently, Bala is studying recognition of materials, styles, and other object attributes in