Milestone-Proposal talk:Computer Graphics Development

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Advocates and reviewers will post their comments below. In addition, any IEEE member can sign in with their ETHW login (different from IEEE Single Sign On) and comment on the milestone proposal's accuracy or completeness as a form of public review.

Expert Reviewer Support for the University of Utah Milestone Proposal -- Donahoe (talk) 17:47, 2 May 2022 (UTC)

Exactly as received from Dr. Alvy Ray Smith on 2 May 2022:

I’ve been in the field of computer graphics for over 50 years, making my first picture in 1964. I’ve contributed artistically and technically. I’m proud of many things but being the cofounder (with Ed Catmull) of Pixar perhaps tops that list. I’m happy to give my full support to this IEEE commendation of the University of Utah as a center of computer graphics excellence and, specifically, to David Evans and Ivan Sutherland as its leading lights. The proposal for the citation is well-written, thorough, and accurate.

I’ve been aware of the University of Utah’s prominence throughout most of my career, with a first visit there in the early 1970s. I’ve visited there several times, but more importantly, I’ve worked closely with its graduates for decades. In particular, Ed Catmull, the other Pixar cofounder, was my colleague for years at the New York Institute of Technology, Lucasfilm, and Pixar. He studied with both Evans and Sutherland for his PhD. I know, or knew, nearly every person mentioned in the proposal. I myself, however, have never been associated with the University of Utah in any formal way.

I recently (3 Aug. 2021) published a book, A Biography of the Pixel, from MIT Press. It took me about 10 years to research. It covers the history of what I call Digital Light, including computer graphics, from the appearance of the first pixels in 1947 to their flowering at the 2000 millennium, as signified by the appearance of the first feature-length, completely computer generated motion pictures, beginning with Pixar’s Toy Story. I am proud that my book is a much-referenced work for this University of Utah citation.

Expert Reviewer #2 Support for the University of Utah Milestone Proposal -- Donahoe (talk) 17:33, 12 May 2022 (UTC)

Exactly as received from Dr. Jacob Gaboury on 12 May 2022:

I am happy to serve as an Expert Reviewer in my capacity as an expert on the University of Utah computer graphics program, and as author of the recently published history of computer graphics, Image Objects: An Archaeology of Computer Graphics (MIT Press 2021). I can also attest that the citation as it is currently written is accurate, particularly with regards to the roles and significance as set forth for both David Evans and Ivan Sutherland. I further confirm that I do not have a conflict of interest re: honoring the work done at the Univ. of Utah. I will soon be providing a more complete statement in support of this Milestone proposal.

Re: Expert Reviewer #2 Support for the University of Utah Milestone Proposal -- Donahoe (talk) 22:21, 25 May 2022 (UTC)

Follow-up comments from Dr. Jacob Gaboury on 25 May 2022:

I can confirm that the citation as updated in recent days by what I understand as the Proposer, with assistance from the Advocate and the Milestones Subcommittee, is still historically accurate. With regard to the body of the proposal itself, I have provided some comments which cite to my book and/or correct a few minor details which other sources have stated in error. These have been incorporated into the proposal, and these are based on the extensive research that I performed in the process of writing my book. I am satisfied with the end result, and continue my full support for this Milestone.

citation rephrasing -- Amy Bix (talk) 20:47, 19 May 2022 (UTC)

Many thanks to the proposers and others for their work on this! I have concerns about the citation as currently written for two reasons: 1. the opening "When David Evans invited Ivan Sutherland to join the University of Utah's computer science faculty in 1968" reads more like a sentence from a book, rather than a tight plaque citation. 2. It takes too long and too much effort to get to what is/are the actual technical achievements here, which are meant to be the focus of a milestone plaque.

I recommend re-writing (as someone said) to match more of the style of the old Bell Labs plaque citations, to put the institution and its technical work first, maybe something like the following:

From 1967 to the late 1970s, the University of Utah computer science department pioneered in development of computer graphics hardware and software. Faculty, graduate students, and alumni established major technology companies and pioneered valuable rendering and visualization techniques, including Gouraud shading, Catmull-Rom spline, Blinn-Phong reflection model, Warnock algorithm, and the rendering equation. Utah's computer-graphics expertise advanced creation of animated films, games, simulators, and computer-aided design.

A few notes here: 1. I am not yet convinced it is essential to have the names here; I believe that something like my wording above covers the situation, and then with more details about specific people and contributions to be made available via a QR code link. I am also worried about including Evans and Sutherland but not any others.... 2. I did not see the ARPA reference as essential, so I left it out of my suggestion above. 3. The writeup seems to give a central role to Sketchpad, but it was not mentioned in the original citation. Is that because Sketchpad was developed before Sutherland came to Utah?

Re: citation rephrasing -- Bberg (talk) 21:46, 19 May 2022 (UTC)

Thank you, Amy.

First, let me say that I hope you and the rest of the Milestones Subcommittee are able to read through the proposal since it tells a story. Also, the citation that was submitted for discussion today also tells a story by including the specific reason why so many developments came out of the Univ. of Utah, and I discuss that here:

Re: your points (1) and (2): please note this from the Justification section: "While Evans is often overshadowed by the more well-known Ivan Sutherland, Evans' importance cannot be overstated. Through Evans, the Univ. of Utah was given $5M/year for 3 years to build a Center of Excellence of Graphics by ARPA." The point is that the ARPA funding was absolutely essential to making this happen, and that Evans was the one to whom the funding was given for the Univ. of Utah. With this money to be directed to computer graphics development, it was thus clear to Sutherland that the big money for CG development was in Utah - and he knew that lots of money would be needed to design and build the special hardware necessary to advance the CG field. Indeed, as discussed in the proposal, the company Evans & Sutherland was founded shortly after Sutherland arrived in order to create this hardware, and the company exists to this day. Thus, since (a) Evans, (b) ARPA funding, and (c) Sutherland together were the genesis of the "pioneering work" being honored by the Milestone, excluding all 3 from the citation would leave a vacuum since the words would not address the question Why did so much important work happen at the Univ. of Utah?" Note also that the proposal cites the PhD alumni whose dissertations were underwritten by ARPA funding that continued to flow into the university after that first 3 years of funding, and those dissertations have been boldfaced in the proposal to make this very obvious.

Re: your point (3): please note this from the proposal: "Ivan Sutherland began his career with his 1963 MIT doctoral dissertation on his now-famous Sketchpad." Thus, Sketchpad of 1963 precedes the 1968 starting point of the work at Utah.

As such, not including Evans, Sutherland and ARPA is removing the 3 key elements that were the genesis for what happened at Utah, and thus this removes the reason for the Milestone being able to be honored.

Re: Re: citation rephrasing -- Amy Bix (talk) 22:04, 19 May 2022 (UTC)

Of course I can see that the ARPA funding was essential to how the technology developed here - but is this piece of information the most essential to what the ordinary person needs to know from reading the plaque? I would be inclined to leave the ARPA element to the QR code longer-version and use the plague to give people the "big-picture story" - as in "Utah's computer-graphics expertise advanced creation of animated films, games, simulators, and computer-aided design."

Re: Re: Re: citation rephrasing -- Bberg (talk) 22:17, 19 May 2022 (UTC)

I did some expansion of my response which precedes your comment, Amy, so please note that.

Bottom line: my citation tells a story, and the funding really made it happen. Giving ARPA its due in the citation is the right thing to do, and doing so will open some eyes to this. So often government funding gets bashed, and often rightfully so when money is misspent. However, the Univ. of Utah is an important example of how government funding did amazing things, and so I feel that removing ARPA would do a disservice to history. It's an essential element of the "Why at Utah?" story.

Milestones Subcommittee Agreement re: Citation -- Bberg (talk) 21:04, 7 June 2022 (UTC)

I had extensive communications with the members of the Milestones Subcommittee in late May re: this Milestone's citation. This process concluded with everyone's support of this 70-word version (which was updated on the main page):

In 1965, the University of Utah established a Center of Excellence for computer graphics research with Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) funding. In 1968, two professors founded pioneering graphics hardware company Evans & Sutherland, and by 1978, fundamental rendering and visualization techniques disclosed in doctoral dissertations included the Warnock algorithm, Gouraud shading, the Catmull-Rom spline, and the Blinn-Phong reflection model. Alumni-founded companies include Atari, Silicon Graphics, Adobe, Pixar, and Netscape.