Eitan Grinspun, Associate Professor of Computer Science and Applied Mathematics
Blockbuster films depend on computational physics. The focus is on models that capture the qualitative, characteristic behavior of a mechanical system. Visual effects employ mathematical and computational models of hair, fur, skin, cloth, fire, granular media, and liquids. This is scientific computing with a twist. But techniques developed originally for film can also advance consumer products, biomedical research, and basic physical understanding.
I will describe computational models based on discrete differential geometry (DDG). The focus is on the geometric structure of a mechanical system. We build a discrete (hence readily computable) geometry from the ground up, mimicking the axioms, structures, and symmetries of the smooth setting. Problems addressed via DDG include dynamic evolution of thin visco- elastic structures, granular media, and the tying of tight knots.
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