Ron Fedkiw
(Full) Professor
Stanford Computer Science

Ph.D. Applied Mathematics, UCLA

LEFT PHOTO: circa 2005; RIGHT PHOTO: circa 2017

Computer Science Department
Stanford University
Gates Computer Science Bldg., Room 207
Stanford, CA 94305-9020

Special Effects, Machine Learning, and You...
I'm not really a graphics person so much as I'm a Hollywood special effects person. These days my work on special effects focuses quite a bit on face and body animation and simulation, trying to outwit the uncanny valley. Traditionally, one used only computer vision techniques for this sort of work, but we're now successfully mixing in quite a bit of physical simulation as well. In fact, I have many ongoing projects mixing in real world data and simulation in order to create more realistic simulations for Hollywood special effects (cloth is next).

It turns out that students interested in Hollywood special effects with backgrounds in math, physics, computer vision, and machine learning (all combined) are hard to find...

Brief Bio
Fedkiw received his Ph.D. in Mathematics from UCLA and spent part of his postdoctoral studies at Caltech in Aeronautics before joining the Stanford Computer Science Department. He was awarded an Academy Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (twice: 2008 and 2015), the National Academy of Science Award for Initiatives in Research, a Packard Foundation Fellowship, a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), a Sloan Research Fellowship, the ACM Siggraph Significant New Researcher Award, an Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Program Award (ONR YIP), the Okawa Foundation Research Grant, the Robert Bosch Faculty Scholarship, the Robert N. Noyce Family Faculty Scholarship, two distinguished teaching awards, etc. He has published about 120 research papers in computational physics, graphics, and vision, a book on level set methods, and is currently working at the interface between physical simulation and machine learning - recently joining the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (SAIL). Currently, he serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Computational Physics. For the past 17 years, he has been a consultant with Industrial Light + Magic, receiving screen credits on movies such as "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines", "Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith", "Poseidon", "Evan Almighty", "Kong: Skull Island", etc. Of all his achievements, he is most proud of the combined accomplishments of the 30 Ph.D. students that he has graduated so far, and looks forward to seeing what the next 30 will do!



Computational Physics...

Computer Graphics, Vision & Biomechanics...


Ph.D. Students

Former Ph.D. Students Former Postdoctoral Scholars

A Note on Rejected Papers

All too often young researchers get discouraged when they receive peer reviews that are incorrect, misinformed, or all too often merely intended to silence the authors and their ideas. Personally, I have always been amazed that academics who devote their lives to producing new information actually work to censure and diminish the work produced by others, and often take pride in doing just that. As time goes on, one learns to distinguish between those in academia who love the work and those that have instead turned academia into some sort of career aggressively optimizing their stature at the expense of the community as a whole. For young researchers this can be quite daunting, but I strongly encourage you to stick to your ideas and goals and the pursuit of what interests you. Remember, the content of your paper and the value of its ideas are not diminished because it was rejected from your preferred venue. The content of the paper itself does not change because of the name of the journal printed on the upper corner of the page! To emphasize this, I decided to list my 3 most cited REJECTED papers along with their google scholar citation counts:
  • "A Boundary Condition Capturing Method for Multiphase Incompressible Flow", 599 citations, rejected from J. Comp. Phys.
  • "Simulation of Clothing with Folds and Wrinkles", 496 citations, rejected from Siggraph
  • "Fast Surface Reconstruction using the Level Set Method", 457 citations, rejected from Siggraph