Distinguished Guest Speaker: Pat Hanrahan, Stanford University

Event | | Event

The Dean of the School of Computation, Information and Technology is pleased to invite all members of our university to Pat Hanrahan's talk on "Shading Languages and the Emergence of Programmable Graphics Systems", for which he received a Turing Award in 2019.


Date and time: Tuesday, 28 November 2023, 14:00 MEZ

On-Campus at FMI, Boltzmannstr. 3, Garching
Lecture Hall 1, Friedrich L. Bauer Hörsaal (https://nav.tum.de/room/5602.EG.001)

Host: Prof. Angela Dai

Title: Shading Languages and the Emergence of Programmable Graphics Systems

Speaker Bio

Pat Hanrahan is the Canon Professor of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering in the Computer Graphics Laboratory at Stanford University. As a founding employee at Pixar Animation Studios, Hanrahan led the design of RenderMan. Hanrahan served as a co-founder and CTO of Tableau Software. He has received three Academy ("Oscar") Awards for Science and Technology, the SIGGRAPH Computer Graphics Achievement Award, the SIGGRAPH Stephen A. Coons Award, and the IEEE Visualization Career Award. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2019, he received the ACM A. M. Turing Award.


A major challenge in using computer graphics for movies and games is to create a rendering system that can create realistic pictures of a virtual world. The system must handle the variety and complexity of the shapes, materials, and lighting that combine to create what we see every day. The images must also be free of artifacts, emulate cameras to create depth of field and motion blur, and compose seamlessly with photographs of live action. Pixar's RenderMan was created for this purpose, and has been widely used in feature film production. A key innovation in the system is to use a shading language to procedurally describe appearance. Shading languages were subsequently extended to run in real-time on graphics processing units (GPUs), and now shading languages are widely used in game engines. The final step was the realization that the GPU is a data-parallel computer, and the shading language could be extended into a general-purpose data-parallel programming language. This enabled a wide variety of applications in high performance computing, such as physical simulation and machine learning, to be run on GPUs. Nowadays, GPUs are the fastest computers in the world. This talk will review the history of shading languages and GPUs, and discuss the broader implications for computing.