Andrew Witkin

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Andy in 1987

Andrew P. Witkin (July 22, 1952 – September 12, 2010) was an American computer scientist who made major contributions in computer vision and computer graphics.


Witkin studied psychology at Columbia College, Columbia University for his bachelor's degree, and at MIT for his Ph.D. After MIT, he worked briefly at SRI International on computer vision.

He then moved to Schlumberger's Fairchild Laboratory for Artificial Intelligence Research, later Schlumberger Palo Alto Research, where he led research in computer vision and graphics; here he invented scale-space filtering, scale-space segmentation and Active Contour Models and published several prize-winning papers.

From 1988 to 1998 he was a professor of computer science, robotics, and art at Carnegie-Mellon University, after which he joined Pixar in Emeryville, California. At CMU and Pixar, with his colleagues he developed the methods and simulators used to model and render natural-looking cloth, hair, water, and other complex aspects of modern computer animation.

Awards and honors[edit]

The paper "Snakes: Active Contour Models" (by Kass, Witkin, and Terzopoulos) achieved an honorable mention for the Marr Prize in 1987. According to CiteSeer, this paper is the 11th most cited paper ever in computer science.[1] [2] The 1987 paper "Constraints on deformable models: Recovering 3D shape and nonrigid motion" by (by Terzopoulos, Witkin, and Kass) was also a prize winner.[2]

In 1992, Witkin and Kass where awarded the Prix Ars Electronica computer graphics award for "Reaction–Diffusion Texture Buttons."

Witkin received the ACM SIGGRAPH Computer Graphics Achievement Award in 2001 "for his pioneering work in bringing a physics based approach to computer graphics."[3]

As senior scientist at Pixar Animation Studios, Witkin received a technical academy award in 2006 for "pioneering work in physically based computer-generated techniques used to simulate realistic cloth in motion pictures."[4]

Personal life[edit]

Andrew Witkin was the son of psychologist Herman A. Witkin and geneticist Evelyn M. Witkin. He was married to psychologist Sharon Witkin; their children are Emily Witkin and Anna Witkin.


Andrew "Andy" Witkin died in a scuba diving accident off the coast of Monterey, California on September 12th 2010. In the PIXAR movie Cars 2 in the credits, exit a message: In loving memory Japhet Pieper 1965-2010 Andy Witkin 1952-2010. This message can be seen at minutes:1:43:09.


External links[edit]