PORTLAND, Ore. — The "father of computer graphics" Ivan Sutherland was awarded the Kyoto Prize in Advanced Technology yesterday at the Kyoto Symposium in San Diego, Calif, for his "pioneering achievements in the development of computer graphics and interactive interfaces." Currently working on asynchronous logic as a visiting scientist at Portland State University in Portland, Ore., Sutherland's early work paved the way for the ubiquitous graphical user interface and computer-aided design.
Sutherland is perhaps best known for his invention of the Sketchpad as a part of his 1963 doctoral dissertation in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Sutherland's Sketchpad was software, running on MIT's fabled Lincoln TX-2 computer, that constrained hand-drawn line segments and arcs so that they could be easily combined into figures and shapes, for which he received the Turing Award from the Association for Computing Machinery in 1988.
Computer-aided design (CAD) systems in fields as diverse as automobile, aviation and architecture, as well as computer graphics systems in entertainment, special effects, animations and film, both were enabled by the graphical modeling and interactive advances made by Sutherland. By building libraries of shapes and the algorithms needed to combine them together into rendered objects, Sutherland's contributions to CAD and computer graphics have earned him membership in the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Sciences.
|Ivan Sutherland, the 2012 Kyoto Prize Laureate in Advanced Technology, receives his medal at the Kyoto Prize Gala. |
Over the years, Sutherland has innovated many other technologies that are commonplace today, such as head-mounted displays, which he demonstrated as far back as 1968. Today Sutherland continues to explore new frontiers in virtual- and augmented-reality for everything from flight simulators to automobile navigation systems to high-rendering accuracy in 3-D films. Sutherland is also developing a new method for creating more efficient semiconductors using asynchronous logic, founding the Asynchronous Research Center (ARC) with his wife, Marly Roncken--a computer scientist at PSU.
"Why do engineers always want to quantize time with synchronous circuits, when many arithmetic and graphical operations are inherently asynchronous," said Sutherland. "At ARC we want to enhance the skills of electronics designers so that they use synchronous or asynchronous techniques as appropriate, rather than the lopsided situation we have today."
For example, Sutherland claims that the ubiquitous arithmetic circuits universally used today by computers, can be improved by going to asynchronous timing instead of synchronous. For instance, floating-point adders consume so much power, compared with fixed-point adders, because of the look-ahead circuitry needed to make them synchronous. By eliminating the look-ahead circuits in favor of asynchronous rendezvous, power consumption can be reduced by as much as 40 percent.
Other Kyoto Prize recipients this year included molecular cell biologist Yoshinori Ohsumi, who won the Basic Sciences award for his demonstration that living cells degrade their own proteins when adapting to nutritional deficiencies. In Arts and Philosophy, professor Gayatri Spivak won for her championing the rights of women, minorities, working-class citizens and new immigrants.