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Focus 1991

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Vol. 2, No. 1
Spring 1991
CICSR researchers are
developing and refining
graphic and visualization
tools, which are proving
useful to a growing array
of disciplines.
■ They say a picture is worth ten thousand
words. In many fields of research at the
University of B.C., graphics and visualization are invaluable tools for collecting,
analyzing and/or representing information.
MAGIC (Media and Graphics Interdiscipli-
... continued on page 2
CICSR researcher Dr. Dave Forsey developed
this animated dragon as part of his Ph.D. thesis.
His research produced a new method for
representing free-form surfaces that not only
makes them easier to create, but also drastically
reduces storage and computation costs.
i Director's statement        page 2
I GraFiC an impressive first
MAGIC project page 4
I Graphics and visualization in
engineering page 6
I CICSR people: Ray Gosine joins
UBC staff; Guy Dumont becomes
an ASI fellow page 7
I CICSR Calendar
page 8 Director's Statement
CICSR Director Jim Varah is currently
on a sabbatical until June 30, 1991. I
have been attempting to fill his shoes as
Acting Director from January 1, 1991
until his return. Over this period, a
number of events are coming together.
The most important and exciting of these
is the CICSR/Computer Science
building, which is in the final stages of
planning. The architectural drawings are
being completed and construction is
scheduled to start this summer, with
completion in the fall of 1992.
The building will house the CICSR
laboratories, with joint projects in
Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering. As
well, it will be the new home for the
Computer Science Department. The
building will greatly facilitate day-to-day
collaboration between colleagues in the
three departments, as well as allow the
sharing of many kinds of resources.
Another upcoming event is the Distinguished Lecture Series in Graphics and
Visualization. The series will bring world
leaders in this important technology to
UBC to present their work and ideas.
CICSR has also developed a report series
which will make internal UBC research
reports available to industry and government institutions. A catalogue of titles
and abstracts with an accompanying order
form will be available soon. We hope the
report series will foster an increasing
dialogue between CICSR researchers,
other universities and external organizations by allowing this convenient window
into CICSR research activities.
Multimedia is an emerging field that combines film, text, graphics and sound on computers.
It is one of the many research interests at MAGIC.
MAGIC    ... continued from front page
nary Centre) was formed to ensure
researchers on campus and in industry
alike are taking full advantage of these
tools. Exactly how MAGIC, officially
announced October 1990, will take shape is
still being decided.
"Much of MAGIC is still a gleam in
everyone's eyes," said MAGIC director
Kellogg Booth. MAGIC's first major
project, GraFiC, is going full steam ahead
(see accompanying article), and other
projects are in the early planning stages.
"There's far more that can be done than
we'll be able to accomplish with the
resources available," said Booth. "My job
is to find interests and strengths on campus
that can be put together in imaginative
ways so we direct our energies to projects
that will really make a difference. Where
we end up will be perhaps serendipitous
because we will be watching for opportunities as they arise. It is part research and
part technology-driven."
MAGIC's stated goals are: to conduct
research in computer-based media and
graphics technology; to develop software
tools for this technology for users in a
variety of disciplines; to foster the transfer
of technology throughout the university
and the community; and to strengthen
interaction with industry through collaborative research projects.
The interdisciplinary nature of MAGIC
makes it a perfect match with CICSR,
which promotes interaction between
computer science, mechanical engineering
and electrical engineering researchers. A
number of CICSR researchers expect to be
involved in MAGIC projects.
Outside of CICSR, in faculties as diverse
as education and dentistry, there is interest
in MAGIC. For example, Dr. Theo
Goldberg, who consults for the Faculty of
Education is looking at ways to use multimedia applications in music education.
In dentistry, researchers are using
computer graphics to help them under-
Kellogg Booth, MAGIC director
Dr. Peter Lawrence, CICSR Acting Director stand how the structure of breathing
passages affects sleep apnea. "This is
MAGIC's foot in the door to the health
sciences in general, which have countless
uses for computer graphics and visualization," said Booth.
Another potential project will use graphics
to represent a forest ecology model
developed over 12 years by forest ecology
professor Hamish Kimmins. He is using
pieces of the model for a program to teach
high school students the effects of forest
management decisions. He hopes to work
with MAGIC to develop a graphical user
interface to enable forest researchers to use
the model effectively.
"There are people in many different
departments using computer graphics,"
said Booth. "MAGIC is attempting to bring
these groups together to share expertise
and solve common problems beyond what
the individuals can handle."
In addition to these activities, Booth is also
developing the industrial partners program,
to bring in more interest and funding from
off campus. Already, Alias Research Inc.
and IBM Canada have become sponsors,
and contributed $12,500 each. Matching
funding is provided by the Ministry of
Advanced Education, Training and
Technology's science and technology
Ed Froese, MAGIC associate director
Media and Graphics
Interdisciplinary Centre
The University of British Columbia
MAGIC is facilitating the work of Dr. Keith Hamel (top) of the UBC School of Music.
He is using digital technology in both music composition and instrumentation.
The earth image rendered by Dr. Alain Fournier illustrates how a topographical rendering of the earth
can be scaled to show the actual contours of land in relation to water.
These two projects are among several that illustrate the diversity possible within MAGIC.
Off campus, MAGIC is looking at setting
up a collaborative relationship with the
Emily Carr College of Art and Design and
with Simon Fraser University's Centre for
Image and Sound Research.
Further extending its reach, MAGIC is
presenting The 1991 Apple Educational TV
Series via satellite link. MAGIC brought a
series of lectures from the University of
Maryland to the campus via satellite. "We
expect to hold a number of events like this
to enable people to see presentations
otherwise unavailable to them," said Booth.
The Maryland lecture series focuses on
user interface strategies, and includes
lectures on user-controlled animation in
hypermedia, interactive learning environments, and advanced user interface
architectures and software tools.
Booth's own interests lie in the area of user
interfaces, and the psychology behind the
way people use computers. "Computing
power is no longer the limiting factor in
most cases. What you have to know to
apply that power is beyond most people's
capabilities. I'm interested in the presentation of information in a way that is
meaningful to people and that relates to
their own way of thinking."
Booth plans to hold presentations of on-
campus research that may interest local
industry, and invite them to bring forward
their problems. "We're somewhat isolated
on campus. Through MAGIC, we can keep
track of what's really going on in industry.
We want to increase our visibility and be a
point of contact for industry and government. We want to be a focal point."
MAGIC associate director Ed Froese likes
to use the Media Lab at MIT as a model.
The lab does technology development,
research and teaching. "It is totally
industry-funded, with funding approaching
$10 million per year."
While MAGIC doesn't aspire to become
that large, the idea behind MIT's centre
fits. MAGIC is an umbrella organization,
much like CICSR, with a charter to create
synergy across multiple disciplines, both
on campus and off. ■ Graphics take on new dimensions
The Graphics and Film in Computers (GraFiC) project is encouraging the
use of graphics and visualization in a wide variety of applications ranging
from music to mechanical engineering.
■ The Graphics and Film in Computers
(GraFiC) project at UBC is the flagship
project for MAGIC, aimed at researching,
developing and encouraging the use of
computer graphics and visualization in
various disciplines.
GraFiC is an impressive first step for
MAGIC, with a fully-equipped graphics
lab and world-class researchers involved.
IBM Canada donated $900,000 worth of
hardware to GraFiC, officially opened in
October 1990.
Not exactly. The dragon-spouting teapot (above)
is an interesting twist on the teapot used in many
computer graphics demonstrations. It consists of
3082 bezier patches, plus the patches of the
teapot with the spout removed. The trimming
curves are defined by 2374 bezier curves.
The "frosted doughnut" (right) is the iterated map
solution for a forced rotor (ie, a disk that rotates
around an axis with something forcing it.)
"Thanks to IBM, the lab offers new
capabilities to UBC in the area of graphics
and animation," CICSR director James
Varah remarked at the opening. "CICSR
decided three years ago to target graphics
as an area to develop. I didn't think we'd
come as far as we have in that time."
"GraFiC is the team leader for MAGIC.
They'll be a tough act to follow," said
MAGIC director Kellogg Booth, who,
along with GraFiC director Alain Fournier,
is a top Canadian academic researcher in
the field of computer graphics.
Fournier said one of his main goals with
GraFiC is to foster computer animation
and make the tools available for others to
use, for purposes ranging from medical
research to pure entertainment. That was certainly the vision Maria
Klawe, head of the Department of
Computer Science, had when she did the
initial work setting GraFiC up. "It's
something for all of UBC, and for industry
to take advantage of."
GraFiC is not only equipped with high-end
Silicon Graphics computers designed for
animation and graphics work. They also
have world-class software developed by
Alias Research to use. A GraFiC sponsor,
Alias, a Toronto-based company, is a
world leader in 3D computer graphics
software for design, entertainment and
visualization. Alias has assisted some 60
colleges and universities worldwide with
the acquisition of state-of-the-art computer
graphics technology.
UBC researchers will also develop their
own graphics software and tools. Fournier
plans to hire two full-time staff members
to maintain the software and do animation.
GraFiC staff will interact with people from
various disciplines to enable them to make
use of the lab's capabilities. "We don't
want to be a production house, nor do we
want to do pure research. We have to
strike a balance," said Fournier.
Some of the projects now under way at
GraFiC illustrate the tremendous variety of
applications possible within the lab.
For instance, a civil engineering student
plans to develop animation to simulate the
motion of an earthquake. In physiology,
computer animation is used to replicate
what happens during the regeneration of
nerve cells.
One problem with computer animation,
Fournier admits, is that it's still very time-
consuming. First, an object must be
modelled on the computer. Then, motion
is added.
According to GraFiC associate director
Dave Forsey, high end computer animation costs upwards to $3,000 per second to
produce, and it may take a team of
animators and programmers weeks, or
even months of work to complete just one
minute of animation.
A problem not only in computer animation, but in computer-aided design and
simulation, is the representation of
complex surfaces. Forsey's research
interests concern the representation of
such free-form surfaces and how these
shapes can be specified and manipulated.
Forsey's Ph.D. research produced a new
method for representing free-form surfaces
that not only makes them easier to create,
but also drastically reduces storage and
computation costs (often by an order of
magnitude). Forsey plans to apply his
techniques to medical imaging and
simulations of biological systems.
During work on his thesis, he applied these
techniques to an animated dragon.
According to Forsey, "The dragon
represented a major challenge in both its
creation and its animation."
The shape itself is very complex. Using
traditional methods (uniform bi-cubic B-
splines), more than 22,000 data points
would be needed to represent the dragon.
Forsey's approach uses 505 data points. In
addition, the dragon moves; its swings and
research interests.
Forsey is not the only GraFiC researcher
working to improve animation software
and overcome current limitations.
Fournier is working on his own animation research to create better surface
models. For example, he's working on a
way to distinguish velvet from silk on the
computer screen. It's something your
vision automatically knows how to do,
but it's very difficult to replicate. The
research will be applicable to a wide
variety of surface models.
"There's a lot of work to do," said
Fournier. "Our visual system is very
GraFiC researchers (from left) Dr. Dave Forsey, Dr. Peter Cahoon and Dr. Alain Fournier.
bends its head, speaks, winks, breathes,
and wiggles its ears. All the data that
determines the shape of the surface must
change with each frame of the animation
thirty times a second.
Forsey's representation makes it very easy
to change the shape of the figure without
having to re-create surface details. This
makes the dragon easy to animate and,
unlike computer animation that works with
rigid objects, creates a skin that deforms
smoothly as the underlying skeleton
changes position.
The whole problem of how to actually
specify that motion is another of Forsey's
thorough. We know the differences, but we
can't always explain them. You can fake
your way through a still picture, but not in
Advancing the state of the art in computer
animation is an important part of GraFiC,
and one its industrial sponsors are
particularly interested in. But the work
certainly doesn't stop there. The other
main goal of GraFiC is to apply this
research to projects in industry and in
various departments on campus, and to
encourage others to take full advantage of
UBC's emerging world-class expertise in
graphics and animation. ■ Graphics and engineering team up
Graphics and visualization are finding their way into more engineering projects, where the
depiction and study of very complex data is often easiest using pictures.
■ Computer graphics and visualization are
increasingly finding their way into the
realm of engineering, where pictures are
often the best way to convey and analyse
complex information.
According to Dr. Douglas Romilly, an
assistant professor in Mechanical Engineering and a CICSR member, graphics are
typically used in his research in three
different ways: to present feedback
(swallowing disorders).
According to Romilly, five muscles in the
tongue must be coordinated during
swallowing, but stroke and polio victims
often lose proper use of these muscles.
The research is directed towards developing sensor-based devices which can be put
into the mouth of patients to measure the
pressure distribution their tongues can
exert. Graphics are used to give patients
Dr. Douglas Romilly, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and CICSR member
information related to actions performed
during clinical or experimental testing,
and for post-testing analysis of the data;
as a means of acquiring or processing data
from optical images; and in pre-processing and post-processing stages of
numerical modelling.
One example of graphics being used to
provide feedback during clinical tests is
the Mechanical Engineering Department's
research, in conjunction with Dr. C.
Hershler in Clinical Engineering, into
developing diagnostic systems for
defining parameters related to dysphagia
immediate results and motivate them to
improve and reach specific target values
for therapeutic purposes.
Another similar project involves
developing sensors to measure spasticity
in the foot. Spasticity occurs when a
person's muscles resist desired motion
and respond involuntarily to stimulus.
The device will provide immediate
feedback to clinicians.
Another common way graphics are used
in engineering is to acquire and process
data from optical images. Once acquired,
the data can be used in the generation of
analytical or numerical models.
One example is a collaborative project
involving Romilly and Dr. F. Navin of
the Civil Engineering Department, with
the technical assistance of Dr. R.
Woodham of the Department of Computer Science. They are analysing the
effect of rear-end impact on cars using a
specially-designed impact facility built by
UBC and located at the Insurance
Corporation of B.C. Material Damage
Research Facility.
With a dummy placed in the front seat, a
large weight is swung into the back of the
car. From videotaped motion, the researchers are analysing the forces applied
on the car and the occupant.
"The goal is to understand how impact on
the structure gets transferred through the
components of the vehicle to cause
whiplash to the occupant," said Romilly.
Researchers are determining the best
vehicle structure, seat and head rest
design to minimize whiplash injuries.
The few seconds it takes to simulate a
rear-end crash are recorded on video,
with key points, such as head and
shoulder position, tracked frame by frame
to determine their motion, velocity and
acceleration. "We can resolve the video
image into useful data to calculate forces
applied," said Romilly.
A project in the early planning stages
proposes to use image analysis to define
the paths your arm travels during typical
daily activities such as eating and
personal hygiene tasks. The information
will be used to design an upper limb
orthosis to provide arm motion for people
who have lost motor functions.
The final area where graphics and
visualization are commonly used in
engineering tasks is in the pre-processing
and post-processing stages of numerical
modelling of structural systems, typically
using finite element methods.
One example is an electrical engineering
project evaluating the stress resulting
from limb compression induced by a
surgical pneumatic tourniquet cuff, and how this relates to post-operative
damage of nerves and tissues. Researchers are using a combination of tests on
cadavers placing sensors under the
tourniquet cuff, and numerical models of
a limb.
"The numerical model provides greater
flexibility — for instance the ability to
look at cross sections of the limb," said
Romilly, "With a real person, you can
only do comparisons at the surface."
The stresses on the limb can be plotted
graphically. Pressure profiles can be
changed to gauge different effects. The
goal is to determine optimum pressure
when the tourniquet is effective but
won't damage nerves or tissue.
B.C. government funds plans for building
■ The University of B.C. received
$900,000 from the Ministry of Advanced
Education, Training and Technology to
plan the new building for CICSR and the
Department of Computer Science.
According to Advanced Education
Minister Bruce Strachan, "The new
building's research centre is an innovative,
partnership approach for taking advantage
of opportunities in the knowledge era."
CICSR collaborates with other universities, private industry, and government
agencies, and promotes collaborative interdisciplinary research for the Departments
of Computer Science, Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering.
The $16 million facility will be located on
the northeast corner of Main Mall and
Agronomy Road. The four-level, 9,135-
square-metre structure will contain
administrative, research and laboratory
UBC president David Strangway said the
Electrical Engineering, Mechanical
Engineering and Computer Science
Departments will be able to expand when
Computer Science moves to the new
building from its current quarters. ■
"Graphics and visualization
techniques can be used in
engineering research in many
different ways: to present
feedback during clinical or
experimental testing, and for
post-testing analysis of the data;
as a means of acquiring or
processing data from optical
images; and in pre-processing
and post-processing stages of
numerical modelling."
Other projects using graphics in a similar
way include studies to investigate the
structural integrity of natural gas cylinders,
studies to optimize stresses in a milling
tool during metal cutting, and numerical
studies to determine the stress distribution
around a crack in the tooth gullet of a
lumber band saw blade.
All of these projects are very complex.
But graphics and visualization are helping
us to make sense of the complexity and, in
turn, are making engineering researchers'
jobs easier. ■
Dr. Ray Gosine
Dr. Guy Dumont
CICSR welcomes Gosine
to Mechanical Engineering
■ CICSR is pleased to welcome Dr. Ray
Gosine to the UBC Department of
Mechanical Engineering. He will serve as
an assistant professor and as the NSERC
Junior Research Chair in Industrial
Automation of the fish processing
industry. Gosine will work closely with
Dr. Clarence de Silva who occupies the
NSERC Senior Chair.
Dr. Gosine obtained his B.Eng. majoring
in electrical engineering from Memorial
University of Newfoundland in 1986, and
his Ph.D. from University of Cambridge
in 1989.
Interactive robotics and machine vision
are his primary research interests.
Dumont wins ASI fellowship
Early in 1991, CICSR member Dr. Guy
Dumont was named a fellow of the B.C.
Advanced Systems Institute. The
$210,000 ASI fellowship supports
Dumont's research over a three-year term.
The primary objective of the fellowship is
to strengthen the area of pulp and paper
process control and to enhance collaboration between ASI, industry and universities
in this area.
Dumont is one of the top researchers in
the world, and the top person in Canada
applying advanced control techniques to
pulp and paper processing. He recently
joined the UBC Electrical Engineering
Department as Senior PAPRICAN/
NSERC Chair in pulp and paper process
control. ■ 8
Passing notes
Building update
Architectural drawings of the new
CICSR/Computer Science building are in
their final stages. Construction is
scheduled to begin this summer, with
completion projected for the fall of 1992.
The building will facilitate collaboration
between CICSR members.
Model of the CICSR/CS building.
CICSR welcomes two
new CS members
CICSR members Dr. Dave Forsey and Dr.
Carl Seger are two recent appointments
to the UBC Computer Science Department.
Forsey, an Assistant Professor, holds a
Ph.D. in computer science from the
University of Waterloo. He has a Masters
in mathematics from the same university.
His research interests include spline
surfaces, user interfaces, animation, and
free-form surface design.
Seger, an Assistant Professor, also
completed a Ph.D. in computer science at
the University of Waterloo. Prior to
joining UBC, he was a research associate
at Carnegie Mellon University. Seger
holds Masters degrees in mathematics
and engineering physics. His research
interests include formal hardware
verification, asynchronous circuit theory
and VLSI computer architectures.
CICSR visitors welcome
CICSR staff Gale Ross and Susan Perley
If you have any questions about CICSR,
or just want to drop in, our door is
always open. CICSR staff members will
be happy to help you. ■
Graphically Speaking
The Distinguished Lecture Series
For 1991-1992
Six Academic and Industrial Leaders
Address the Future of Computer Graphics,
Visualization and the Man-Machine
October 10, 1991
Shared Workspaces: A Look at
Supporting Distributed Workgroups
Dr. Sara Bly
Researcher, Xerox Palo Alto Research
November 7, 1991
Unravelling the Physics and Chemistry
of Environmental Problems Using
Dr. Gregory J. McRae
Professor, Engineering and Public Policy
and Chemical Engineering, Carnegie
Mellon University
December 5, 1991
Electronic Books:
User-Controlled Animation in a
Hypermedia Framework
Dr. Andries van Dam
Professor of Computer Science,
Brown University
January 16, 1992
Technological Mindset
Dr. Marilyn Mantei
Associate Professor of Computer Science
and Management Information Science,
University of Toronto
February 13, 1992
Realistic Image Synthesis: Progress and
Dr. Donald P. Greenberg
Director, Program of Computer Graphics
and Professor of Computer Graphics,
Cornell University
March 12, 1992
Fluid Mechanics, Massively Parallel
Processors and Real-Time Flow
Dr. James A. Sethian
Professor of Mathematics, University of
California, Berkeley and Senior Scientist,
Physics Division, Lawrence Berkeley
Join Us for a New Look
At How We Use Machines
This is CICSR's fourth Distinguished Lecture
Series. It provides an opportunity for those
interested in graphics to learn from the experience
and ideas of world-class researchers. Advance
registration is not required.
Lectures run from 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., Room 100, SCARFE Building. Lectures are complimentary.
The UBC Centre for Integrated Computer
Systems Research (CICSR) is an interdepartmental research organization made up of computer-
related research faculty members in the Departments of Computer Science, Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering. Currently there
are more than 60 CICSR researchers who direct
over 100 graduate students and collaborate with
dozens of industrial firms in areas such as robotics, artificial intelligence, communications, VLSI
design and industrial automation.
CICSR FOCUS is published twice a year.
EDITOR:  Leslie Ellis
DESIGN:  Rob Bishop
Office: 2053 - 2324 Main Mall,
Vancouver, B.C. V6T 1Z4
Tel: (604) 822-6894, Fax: (604) 822-9013
Contact: Susan Perley


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