CHCCS/SCDHM Achievement Award

Przemyslaw Prusinkiewicz

2009 Achievement Award

The 2009 CHCCS/SCDHM Achievement Award of the Canadian Human Computer Communications Society is presented to Przemyslaw Prusinkiewicz of the University of Calgary.

Professor Prusinkiewicz is Professor of Computer Science at the University of Calgary and is the head and founder of the Biological Modeling and Visualization research group at that institution. Professor Prusinkiewicz received his M.S. (1974) and Ph.D. (1978) in Computer Science from the Technical University of Warsaw. He held Assistant Professorships at the Technical University of Warsaw and at the University of Science and Technology of Algiers before joining the University of Regina in 1982. He was appointed to his current position at the University of Calgary in 1991.

While at the University of Regina, Professor Prusinkiewicz took an active interest in the formalism of L-systems developed by Aristid Lindenmayer, a theoretical biologist. An L-system is a type of formal grammar that is invoked iteratively on an initial configuration of elements and is characterized by the simultaneous parallel use of all applicable production rules at each iteration to successively transform the configuration. Lindenmayer had proposed L-systems as a model for studying the growth of organisms. Professor Prusinkiewicz had the insight that the formal configurations of symbols produced by the grammar could be interpreted with graphical elements depicting features of plants. His first result on this topic, part of a list of over 150 papers authored or co-authored by Professor Prusinkiewicz, appeared in 1986 as the paper “Graphical Applications of L-Systems” delivered to our very own Graphics Interface Conference of that year. His work has also been presented in the classical and influential books, The Algorithmic Beauty of Plants and Lindenmayer Systems, Fractals, and Plants.

The pioneering work by Professor Prusinkiewicz has led to the visual richness of nature we see in Hollywood’s computer-generated imagery. But his work has not been restricted to the visual alone. Professor Prusinkiewicz and his students have collaborated with scientists around the world to explore the use of L-systems in music generation, develop models of fracture formation, build software environments for geometric and biological modeling (LEGO, GeneVis, Virtual Laboratory, L-Studio and the L+C language), analyze processes of biochemical transport, and study the relationships between plants and their insect pests as well as the impact of microclimates on the growth of plant communities. His current research is focused on computational models of development that link plant genetics to their macroscopic forms.

Professor Prusinkiewicz has received numerous awards for his innovative research, including the 1997 ACM SIGGRAPH Computer Graphics Achievement Award. The Canadian Human Computer Communications Society is pleased to add our achievement award to his list of honors and recognitions.