Minchen Li receives ACM SIGGRAPH Outstanding Dissertation Award

Minchen Li

Graduating Ph.D. student Minchen Li has received the ACM SIGGRAPH 2021 Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award for his thesis titled “Robust and Accurate Simulation of Elastodynamics and Contact.” ACM SIGGRAPH, with its mission “to nurture, champion, and connect researchers and practitioners of Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques” is one of the foremost special interest groups in the field of computer graphics.

According to their site, “Minchen’s dissertation presents a breakthrough in the notoriously challenging and long-standing problem of robust frictional contact simulation in nonlinear solid dynamics with guarantees of non-intersection.”

Minchen describes his project in more practical terms.

“My thesis is about solid simulation: simulating solid interactions,” said Li. “For example, when we want to simulate how a garment will look and feel when dressed up on a person for virtual try-on or digital fashion design applications, we need to model the interactions between the garment and the body, and also the self-contact of the cloth in the knots and pleats regions.”

Screenshot taken from one of two main research projects in Minchen’s dissertation

The proposed framework is not only beneficial in the world of visual effects and animation, but also “essential for industrial design, robotics, mechanical engineering analysis, etc.,” as stated in Minchen’s abstract. ACM SIGGRAPH has recognized the work as particularly exceptional because while past research has offered mere trade-offs between efficiency and physical correctness, “[Minchen’s] approach combines a geometrically exact formulation for collision gap functions, a smoothed friction formulation making it possible to cast it in variational form, and the use of a barrier-based interior point method for optimization.”

Professor Norman Badler, who is set to retire this year after almost 5 decades with CIS, also received a prestigious ACM recognition: he was elected into the 2021 ACM SIGGRAPH Academy Class. Professor Badler was also on the thesis committee for Minchen.

”Norm is very friendly and kind, and also very inspiring,” said Minchen. “ When I showed him the simulation I got from my method, he was very excited and encouraged me forward, and also provided me [with] very constructive ideas.”


To read more about our graduating postdocs and Ph.D. students, including Minchen’s full abstract and plans for after graduation, visit our “Graduating Ph.D.s + Postdocs” site.