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ACM SIGGRAPH Honors Computer Animator For Visualization Advances

Max to Receive Highest Honor in Computer Graphics

Virginia Gold

The Association for Computing Machinery



Max to Receive Highest Honor in Computer Graphics

SAN DIEGO, August 6, 2007 - ACM SIGGRAPH will award its 2007 Steven A. Coons Award to Nelson Max for his pioneering scientific visualization films that profoundly influenced a generation of young scientists to see the potential of computer graphics to convey complex ideas. Dr. Max, a computer scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), and a professor at the University of California Davis, produced computer animated educational films on mathematics that demonstrated how both aesthetic choices and mathematical understanding are required for successful scientific visualization. He was also cited for his insightful technical contributions and his encouragement of ideas and intellectual exchange in computer graphics.

The SIGGRAPH Coons Award, the highest honor accorded by ACM SIGGRAPH, is given in odd-numbered years to individuals for lifetime intellectual and creative contributions to computer graphics and interactive techniques. The award is named for Steven A. Coons, an early pioneer in the field of computer graphical methods, who envisioned interactive computer graphics as a tool to aid design and engineering. Dr. Max will receive the award at SIGGRAPH 2007, August 5-9, at the San Diego Convention Center, San Diego, CA.

Dr. Max was director of the NSF-supported Topology Films Project in the early 1970s, which produced two computer animated films, Space Filling Curves and Turning the Sphere Inside Out. These films represented the state of the art in specifying, animating, and rendering moving curves and surfaces. In Carla's Island, made in 1981, Dr. Max further demonstrated the new power of computer graphics, which he combined with visual and mathematical sensibility. In this film, for example, trigonometric functions and numerical approximations became water waves reflecting moonlight and endlessly lapping at the shores.

At LLNL, he produced a series of molecular structure animations that have served to show the role of computer-generated imagery (CGI) in scientific visualization. The most famous of these films are DNA with Ethidium and Doxorubicin/DNA. He was also instrumental in the success of the IMAX movie The Magic Egg shown at SIGGRAPH 84 in Minneapolis, MN.

In the early 1980s, Dr. Max served as computer graphics director for the Fujitsu pavilions at Expo 85 and 90 in Japan for two Omnimax (hemispheric screen) stereo films for international expositions, showing the molecular basis of life. He joined LLNL in1977, and currently teaches computer science at the University of California, Davis. He has also taught mathematics and computer science at UC Berkeley, the University of Georgia, Carnegie Mellon University, and Case Western Reserve University.

Dr. Max holds a B.A. in mathematics from Johns Hopkins University, and a Ph.D. in mathematics from Harvard University.

About ACM
ACM, the Association for Computing Machinery, is an educational and scientific society uniting the world's computing educators, researchers and professionals to inspire dialogue, share resources and address the field's challenges. ACM strengthens the profession's collective voice through strong leadership, promotion of the highest standards, and recognition of technical excellence. ACM supports the professional growth of its members by providing opportunities for life-long learning, career development, and professional networking.

The ACM Special Interest Group on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques ( is an interdisciplinary community interested in research, technology, and applications in computer graphics and interactive techniques. Members include researchers, developers and users from the technical, academic, business, and art communities. SIGGRAPH provides information to the computer graphics community through its annual conference, publications and the SIGGRAPH Video Review.

ACM/Press Release. Last updated August 6, 2007 by Steven Geringer