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SIGGRAPH, originally uploaded by Mister Wind-Up Bird.

Well, I’m back from SIGGRAPH, probably the coolest Computer Science conference around. And also, I’m tired.

While Graphics tends to catch a lot of flack (not least from its practitioners) for being somewhat hacky, I did find people were generally more open to ideas and less ivory-towery than I’ve seen at some Machine Learning conferences. And there is definitely a subset of the graphics community that is very interested in Machine Learning, though there’s maybe a bit of a sense of casting-around on both sides trying to figure out just how they can/should be combined. I managed to persuade a fair number of people to listen to my poster spiel and give away a bunch of business cards, so hopefully something will come of this.

Highlights of SIGGRAPH!

  • Seeing old friends, like Andy and Pinar and Tamy.
  • Having our poster make it to the Student Research Competition finals. I don’t know which of the finalists actually won, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t us. But really, it’s an honour just to be nominated. No, really.
  • The Electronic Theater, which also involved watching graphics-godfather Jim Blinn play an original Asteroids game in front of a couple of thousand attendees.
  • The quality of the presentations. It is extremely high by computer science standards. Everybody finished on time, and I don’t think I saw a single slide of just equations! I was even able to understand things that weren’t my exact field of research! Plus, there were sometimes questions from the audience that weren’t “why didn’t you cite me?” and “why didn’t you cite my student?”
  • Seeing Peter Jackson’s new short film in the Animation Theater.
  • The Emerging Technologies center, where, among other things, you could check out E Ink, Microsoft’s version of multi-touch interfaces, and, most awesomest of all, a 360-degree display.
  • Scott McCloud‘s talk about comics and what makes them a unique medium.
  • A mere five-to-one male-to-female ratio.
  • San Diego. I knew almost nothing about San Diego before going there, but it’s actually a really nice city. Lots going on, perfect weather year-round, and a mixed commercial-residential downtown. Actually, it reminded me a lot of Vancouver, but with better Mexican food, and without the eight months a year of grey and rain.