Andrew Witkin

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Andy Witkin
Andy Witkin 1987 by Malcolm Slaney.jpg
Andy in 1987
Born Andrew Paul Witkin
(1952-07-22)July 22, 1952
Died September 12, 2010(2010-09-12) (aged 58)
Monterey, CA
Cause of death Scuba diving accident
Nationality American
Other names Andy Witkin
Alma mater
Known for Toy Story 3
Awards Prix Ars Electronica (1992)
Scientific career
Thesis Shape from Contour (1980)
Doctoral advisor Whitman Albin Richards[1]

Andrew Paul 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 supervised by Whitman Albin Richards.[1]


After MIT, Witkin 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,[2][3] hair, water, and other complex aspects of modern computer animation.[4]

Awards and honors[edit]

The paper "Snakes: Active Contour Models"[5] 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.[6] The 1987 paper "Constraints on deformable models: Recovering 3D shape and nonrigid motion"[7] was also a prize winner.[6]

In 1992, Witkin and Kass where awarded the Prix Ars Electronica computer graphics award for "Reaction–Diffusion Texture Buttons."[8]

Witkin received the ACM SIGGRAPH Computer Graphics Achievement Award in 2001 "for his pioneering work in bringing a physics based approach to computer graphics."[9]

As senior scientist at Pixar, 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."[10]

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.


He died in a scuba diving accident off the coast of Monterey, California on September 12, 2010.


  1. ^ a b Andrew Witkin at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  2. ^ Baraff, D.; Witkin, A.; Kass, M. (2003). "Untangling cloth". ACM SIGGRAPH 2003 Papers on - SIGGRAPH '03. p. 862. doi:10.1145/1201775.882357. ISBN 1581137095. 
  3. ^ Baraff, D.; Witkin, A. (1998). "Large steps in cloth simulation". Proceedings of the 25th annual conference on Computer graphics and interactive techniques - SIGGRAPH '98. p. 43. doi:10.1145/280814.280821. ISBN 0897919998. 
  4. ^ Witkin, A.; Popovic, Z. (1995). "Motion warping". Proceedings of the 22nd annual conference on Computer graphics and interactive techniques - SIGGRAPH '95. p. 105. doi:10.1145/218380.218422. ISBN 0897917014. 
  5. ^ Kass, M.; Witkin, A.; Terzopoulos, D. (1988). "Snakes: Active contour models" (PDF). International Journal of Computer Vision. 1 (4): 321. doi:10.1007/BF00133570. 
  6. ^ a b Saunders, Kathryn (September 20, 2010). "Andrew Witkin, the Academy-Award Winning Creator of Special-Effects Cloth has died". ACM SIGGRAPH news feed. Archived from the original on September 25, 2010. 
  7. ^ Terzopoulos, D.; Witkin, A.; Kass, M. (1988). "Constraints on deformable models:Recovering 3D shape and nonrigid motion". Artificial Intelligence. 36: 91. doi:10.1016/0004-3702(88)90080-X. 
  8. ^ Witkin, A.; Kass, M. (1991). "Reaction-diffusion textures". Proceedings of the 18th annual conference on Computer graphics and interactive techniques - SIGGRAPH '91. p. 299. doi:10.1145/122718.122750. ISBN 0897914368. 
  9. ^ "2001 ACM SIGGRAPH Awards – Computer Graphics Achievement Award – Andrew Witkin". 
  10. ^ Thomas J. McLean (September 21, 2010). "Oscar-winning Pixar Scientist Witkin Dies". Animation Magazine. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]