Thomas Douglas Selkirk Duff (born December 8, 1952, named for his putative ancestor, the fifth Earl of Selkirk) is a computer programmer. He was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and grew up in Toronto and Leaside. In 1974 he graduated from the University of Waterloo with a B.Math and, two years later, got an M.Sc. from the University of Toronto.
Duff worked at the New York Institute of Technology Computer Graphics Lab and the Mark Williams Company in Chicago before moving to Lucasfilm's Computer Research and Development Division. He and Thomas Porter, another Lucasfilm employee, developed a new approach to compositing images; their 1984 paper, "Compositing Digital Images", is "[t]he seminal work on an algebra for image compositing", according to Keith Packard. and "Porter-Duff compositing" is now a key technique in computer graphics. (See, for example, XRender and Glitz.)
Duff later worked for 12 years at Bell Labs Computing Science Research Center, where he worked on computer graphics, wireless networking, and Plan 9; in the course his work there, he authored the well known "rc" shell for the Version 10 Unix operating system.
Duff has worked at Pixar Animation Studios since 1996.
- In 1995 he was awarded (with others) the Academy Scientific and Engineering Award for his work on digital image compositing. With Bill Reeves he designed the first version of Pixar's Marionette 3-D animation system, which won the same award in 1997.
- On August 22, 2006, the United States Patent and Trademark Office issued U.S. Patent 7,095,409 to Pixar for a "Shot shading method and apparatus" invented by Tom Duff and Robert L. Cook.
- On October 31, 2006, the United States Patent and Trademark Office issued U.S. Patent 7,129,940 to Pixar for a "Shot rendering method and apparatus" invented by Tom Duff and Robert L. Cook.
- "Shared libraries are the work of the devil, the one true sign that the apocalypse is at hand."
- "Nobody really knows what the Bourne shell's grammar is. Even examination of the source code is little help."
- "π seconds is a nanocentury."
- Tom Duff makes a cameo appearance in the Niven/Pournelle science fiction novel Footfall as a co-discoverer of the invading spaceship: "Chap named Tom Duff, a computer type, spotted it."
- Tom Duff appears briefly in the documentary film "Noisy People" (dir Tim Perkis, 2006) playing the banjo.
- Mothra — a Web browser Tom Duff wrote for Plan 9
- Duff's device — a C programming language trick attributed to Tom Duff
- Thomas Porter and Tom Duff, Compositing Digital Images, Computer Graphics, 18(3), July 1984, 253–259. doi:10.1145/800031.808606.
(Available at pixar.com.)
- Keith Packard's webpage about Porter & Duff's 1984 paper
- Tom Duff (short cv on family web site)
- iq0 (personal web site)
- rc - The Plan 9 Shell
- A Quick Introduction to the Plan 9 Panel Library, a GUI toolkit by Tom Duff
- Tom Duff "Viral Attacks On UNIX System Security", AT&T 11273-880728-02TMS, August 1987