UC San Diego Computer Scientist Elevated to IEEE Fellow

Nov 30, 2016
CSE Prof. Ravi Ramamoorthi at UC San Diego

Not all computer scientists are likely to qualify to become a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the world’s leading professional association for advancing technology for humanity. Now, among three University of California San Diego faculty named IEEE Fellows in the class of 2017, one computer scientist made the grade, along with two electrical engineers.

CSE Prof. Ravi Ramamoorthi becomes an IEEE Fellow 
in the class of 2017. [Photo by Alex Matthews]

Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) professor Ravi Ramamoorthi was elevated to IEEE’s top rank for his “contributions to foundations of computer graphics and computer vision.” Ramamoorthi’s research group develops the theoretical foundations, mathematical representations and computational models for the visual appearance of objects, digitally recreating or rendering the complexity of natural appearance.

“Professor Ramamoorthi’s research has had significant impact in industry and at the intersection of computer graphics and computer vision,” said CSE Chair Dean Tullsen. “His work on spherical harmonic lighting and irradiance environment maps is now widely included in games such as the Halo series, and it is increasingly being adopted in movie production.”

In addition to holding the Ronald L. Graham Endowed Chair of Computer Science in the CSE department, Ramamoorthi is the Director of the Center for Visual Computing (VisComp) in the Jacobs School of Engineering.  He joined the UC San Diego faculty in 2014 from UC Berkeley. “My goal was to build a world-leading graphics and vision group at UC San Diego,” said Ramamoorthi, “and we are well on our way with the creation of an interdisciplinary research center in visual computing.”

The grade of Fellow recognizes unusual distinction in IEEE’s designated fields. Ramamoorthi is one of only two new Fellows cited for expertise in computer graphics, and one of four named in computer vision.

Newly-elevated IEEE Fellows in 2017 include 
ECE professors Joseph Ford (left) and Nuno

The latter group includes Nuno Vasconcelos, a professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at UC San Diego, and a member of the VisComp center led by Ramamoorthi. Vasconcelos was elevated for his “contributions to computer vision, image processing and multimedia.” The third UC San Diego professor named an IEEE Fellow for 2017 is ECE’s Joseph Ford. IEEE cited Ford’s “contributions to free space optical imaging and communication technologies.”

Among other honors, CSE’s Ramamoorthi has won the ACM SIGGRAPH Significant New Research Award and a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineering (both in 2007), and an NSF CAREER Award and Sloan Fellowship (both in 2005).

Most recently, he was a finalist for the edX Prize for Exceptional Contributions in Online Teaching and Learning in 2016. The nomination came after the launch of UC San Diego’s first free, non-credit course on the edX online learning platform in 2015, developed and taught by Ramamoorthi (and based on his classroom course in CSE). The six-week course – now offered on a self-paced basis since April 30, 2016 – covers the foundation of computer graphics. Students are able to make images of 3D scenes in both real time and with offline raytracing techniques taught in the course. Ramamoorthi was also cited for having taught the first-ever massive open online course (MOOC) in computer graphics while he was at UC Berkeley. All told, more than 100,000 learners have registered to take half a dozen instalments of Ramamoorthi’s courses through edX, and his video lectures offered on YouTube have been viewed more than half a million times.

Ramamoorthi (at left) in discussion with two members 
of the Center for Visual Computing, CSE instructor
Jurgen Schulze and Cognitive Science's Zhuowen Tu.

Ravi Ramamoorthi joins a distinguished group of current and emeritus professors as IEEE Fellows. They include active faculty Henrik Christensen, David Kriegman and Yuanyuan Zhou (all newly elevated in the class of 2015), Andrew Kahng (2010), Dean Tullsen (2009), Rajesh Gupta (2004), and CK Cheng (2000).  CSE emeritus faculty Fellows in IEEE include Jeanne Ferrante (2005), Bill Howden (2001), Walter Burkhard and Larry Carter (both in 2000).

Each year, the IEEE Board of Directors confers the grade of Fellow on up to one-tenth of IEEE members. To qualify for consideration, an individual must have been a Member, normally for five years or more, and a Senior Member at the time for nomination to Fellow.

Through its 400,000 -plus members in 160 countries, IEEE is a leading authority on a wide variety of areas ranging from aerospace systems, computers and telecommunications to biomedical engineering, electric power and consumer electronics. Dedicated to the advancement of technology, the IEEE publishes 30 percent of the world’s literature in the electrical and electronics engineering and computer science fields, and has developed more than 1,300 active industry standards.  The association also sponsors or co-sponsors nearly 1,700 international technical conferences each year.