CHCCS/SCDHM Canadian Human Computer Communications Society

Société canadienne du dialogue humain-machine

Michael A. J. Sweeney Award


The Canadian Human-Computer Communications Society honours the memory of Michael A. J. Sweeney through an annual award to the best student paper(s) presented at each year's Graphics Interface conference. The winning paper(s) are selected by the program committee from among the papers accepted for the conference for which one or more student authors are presenting the paper.

In Memoriam
Michael A. J. Sweeney, 1951-1995

Michael Sweeney was born on the 7th of April 1951. He grew up in Hamilton, Ontario and attended the Universities of British Columbia, McMaster, and Waterloo. He contributed significantly to the computer rendering capabilities of several leading modeling and animation companies. He died on the 3rd of July 1995. Mike was a remarkable individual, and to ensure that his contributions do not go unnoticed, CHCCS has established the Michael Sweeney Student Award, which will be used to encourage student contributions to Graphics Interface.

In setting out to write this, I looked for a model from our field to follow and found none. Computer graphics is a young discipline, and it has not had much experience in honoring its departed groundbreakers. For those of us who knew Mike, we did not expect to be gaining that experience now. The email notice that came last summer, succinctly informing us that Mike had passed away in his sleep, was without warning or preparation. We were stunned. Mike had been marshaling the troops for several months, firing questions, networking, demanding, picking up contacts, all in a tornado of enthusiasm and energy in his new position at DHD in Montreal. The sudden silence was incomprehensible.

Mike worked to the fullest, with a talent that is all the more remarkable in view of his physical limitations. Mike's promising early studies in music, as a classical performer and a developing composer, and in microbiology, as an honors student at the University of British Columbia, were cut short in 1978 by an automobile accident that made it very difficult for him to speak and impaired his motor control. A blow that would have stopped many was, for Mike, overcome by switching to Computer Science. Mike graduated summa cum laude in 1982 from McMaster University with a BSc, and he received a MMath in 1984 from the University of Waterloo.

I served as Mike's master's thesis advisor. In reality, this required me to run like crazy to keep up with Mike's ideas and progress. I never quite managed the pace. Mike's project, thousands of lines of code that Mike had clearly in his head and could recall any portion of in an instant, achieved a milestone in rendering at the time. More significantly for Mike, it provided the groundwork of his future career. Working with four of the pioneering companies in computer modeling and animation -- Omnibus, Alias, Abel, and SoftImage -- Mike developed, or contributed significantly to, their rendering software. Mike set the tone for high quality image synthesis in commercial software. When you next look at a film attributed to one of these companies, remember that every pixel of every frame has been touched in some way by Mike.

More enduring in the memories of his friends than his intelligence and talent will probably be Mike's impish humor. Life was not to be taken seriously; the serious was to be ridiculed and impaled. And Mike's own condition was the least to be spared. David Donald, Mike's employer and friend at DHD, delivered a eulogy filled with anecdote and warmth. One story, I recall as pure Mike, had to do with his own treatment for the constant motor spasms that cut into his typing and slowed the progress of his conversation. Not liking the side effects of medication that had been prescribed, Mike would keep a low level of cheap white wine in his blood. As David related, the only effect this had was to allow Mike to keep his eyes open when the spasms occurred. Mike communicated many of his immediate reactions through his eyes, and closing them meant losing the thread of dialogue. As Mike came to realize that his friends at DHD were willing to wait through the gaps and did not mind, he sent David a message one day: "Dave, do you mind if I stop drinking? It'll take me a little longer to programme code, but I'll stop falling over when I walk.'' This illustrates Mike's remarkable sense of humor.

Mike is survived by his mother, Helen, his father, Arthur, and his sister, Margaret. He is survived, as well, by friends, colleagues, and acquaintances who have been touched by his presence and his passing.

Richard Bartels
May, 1996

The Rules

The criteria for the Sweeney Award (besides being a "best student paper") are that the lead author be a student author and that a student author or student co-author present the paper at the conference). The program co-chairs are responsible for confirming that this is the case before recommending a paper for the award.

The definition of "student author" is that the author was enrolled as a student when the research reported in the paper was undertaken. The work could be done as part of an internship with industry, or at a university or perhaps independently of any institution, so long as the author was a student. The affiliation for the student must include a school, although multiple affiliations are permitted (which cover internships, and also current affiliations if the student has moved on since the work was done).

Often papers are submitted after the student has graduated, and many are presented after graduation. This is fine.


For each paper selected for a Sweeney award, a cash prize of $200 and a plaque are shared by the set of co-authors of the paper.

In most years there are also "best poster" awards that have a $50 cash prize for each set of co-authors.

Past Winners

Winners of the Michael A. J. Sweeney award are listed below. Student co-authors are indicated by asterisks (*).

Graphics Interface 2015 Best Student Papers

Visibility sweeps for joint-hierarchical importance sampling of direct lighting for stochastic volume-rendering
* Thomas Kroes - Delft
  Martin Eisemann - Delft
  Elmar Eisemann - Delft

Penny Pincher: A blazing fast, highly accurate $-family recognizer
* Eugene Taranta - University of Central Florida
   Joseph LaViola - University of Central Florida

Graphics Interface 2014 Best Student Papers

Interactive light scattering with principal-ordinate propagation
* Oskar Elek - MMCI Saarbruecken
  Tobias Ritschel, MMCI Saarbruecken
  Carsten Dachsbacher, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology
  Hans-Peter Seidel, MPI Informatik Saarbruecken

Experimental study of stroke shortcuts for a touchscreen keyboard with gesture-redundant keys removed
* Ahmed Sabbir Arif, York University and Microsoft Research
  Michel Pahud, Microsoft Research
  Ken Hinckley, Microsoft Research
  Bill Buxton, Microsoft Research

Graphics Interface 2013 Best Student Papers

ACM: Atlas of Connectivity Maps for semiregular models
* Ali Mahdavi-Amiri, University of Calgary
  Faramarz Samavati, University of Calgary

A model of navigation for very large data views
* Michael Glueck, University of Toronto
  Tovi Grossman, Autodesk
  Daniel Wigdor, University of Toronto

Graphics Interface 2012 Best Student Papers

Individual differences in personal task management: A field study in an academic setting
* Mona Haraty, The University of British Columbia
* Diane Tam, The University of British Columbia
* Shathel Hadad, The University of British Columbia
  Joanna McGrenere, The University of British Columbia
  Charlotte Tang, The University of British Columbia

Inverse kinodynamics: Editing and constraining kinematic approximations of dynamic motion
* Cyrus Rahgoshay, McGill University
* Amir H. Rabbani, McGill University
  Karan Singh, Univesity of Toronto
  Paul G. Kry, McGill University

Graphics Interface 2011 Best Student Papers

Structure-preserving stippling by priority-based error diffusion
* Hua Li, Carleton University
  David Mould, Carleton University

Ubiquitous cursor: A comparison of direct and indirect pointing feedback in multi-display environments
* Robert Xiao, University of Saskatchewan
* Miguel Nacenta, University of Saskatchewan
  Regan Mandryk, University of Saskatchewan
  Andy Cockburn, University of Canterbury
  Carl Gutwin, University of Saskatchewan

Graphics Interface 2010 Best Student Papers

Visual links across applications
* Manuela Waldner, Graz University of Technology
  Werner Puff, Graz University of Technology
  Alexander Lex, Graz University of Technology
  Marc Streit, Graz University of Technology
  Dieter Schmalstieg, Graz University of Technology

Interactive Illustrative visualization of hierarchical volume data
* Jean-Paul Balabanian, University of Bergen
  Ivan Viola, University of Bergen
  Eduard Gröller, Vienna University of Technology and University of Bergen

Graphics Interface 2009 Best Student Papers

Parallax photography: Creating 3D cinematic effects from stills
* Ke Zheng, University of Washington
* Alex Colburn, University of Washington
   Aseem Agarwala, Adobe Systems, Inc.
   Maneesh Agrawala, University of California, Berkeley
   Brian Curless, University of Washington
   David Salesin, Adobe Systems, Inc.
   Michael Cohen, Microsoft Research

Determining the benefits of direct-touch, bimanual, and multifinger input on a multitouch workstation
* Kenrick Kin, University of California, Berkeley, and Pixar Animation Studios
   Maneesh Agrawala, University of California, Berkeley
   Tony DeRose, Pixar Animation Studios

Graphics Interface 2008 Best Student Papers

Surface-based growth simulation for opening flowers
* Takashi Ijiri, University of Tokyo
* Mihoshi Yokoo, Shiseido Co., Ltd.
   Saneyuki Kawabata, University of Tokyo
   Takeo Igarashi, University of Tokyo

An empirical characterisation of electronic document navigation
* Jason Alexander, University of Canterbury
   Andy Cockburn, University of Canterbury

Graphics Interface 2007 Best Student Paper

A digital family calendar in the home: Lessons from field trials of LINC
* Carman Neustaedter, University of Calgary
   A.J. Bernheim Brush, Microsoft Research
   Saul Greenberg, University of Calgary

Graphics Interface 2006 Best Student Papers

Particle-based immiscible fluid-fluid collision
* Hao Mao, University of Alberta
   Yee-Hong Yang University of Alberta

symTone: Two-handed manipulation of tone reproduction curves
* Celine Latulipe, University of Waterloo
   Ian Bell, University of Waterloo
   Charles Clarke, University of Waterloo
   Craig Kaplan, University of Waterloo

Graphics Interface 2005 Best Student Paper

Evaluation of an on-line adaptive gesture interface with command prediction
* Xiang Cao, University of Toronto
   Ravin Balakrishnan, University of Toronto

Graphics Interface 2004 Best Student Papers

Interactive image-based exploded view diagrams
* Wilmot Li, University of Washington
   Maneesh Agrawala, Microsoft Research
   David Salesin, University of Washington

Identification and validation of cognitive design principles for automated generation of assembly instructions
* Julie Heiser, Stanford University
* Doantam Phan, Stanford University
   Maneesh Agrawala, Microsoft Research
   Barbara Tversky, Stanford University
   Pat Hanrahan, Stanford University

Graphics Interface 2003 Best Student Papers

Dynamic canvas for non-photorealistic walkthroughs
* Matthieu Cunzi, ARTIS/GRAVIR & REVES/INRIA Sophia-Antipolis
   Joelle Thollot, ARTIS/GRAVIR
* Sylvain Paris, ARTIS/GRAVIR
   Gilles Debunne, ARTIS/GRAVIR
   Jean-Dominique Gascuel, ARTIS/GRAVIR
   Fredo Durand, MIT

Graphics Interface 2002 Best Student Papers

A Starbuck's gift card to whoever provides the list of papers for GI 2002!

Graphics Interface 2001 Best Student Papers

Universal rendering sequences for transparent vertex caching of progressive meshes
* Alexander Bogomjakov, Technion
   Craig Gotsman, Technion

Graphics Interface 2000 Best Student Papers

Effects of gaze on multiparty mediated communication
   Roel Vertegaal, Queens University
* Gerrit van der Veer, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
   Harro Vons, Baan Apps

Graphics Interface 1999 Best Student Paper

A Starbuck's gift card to whoever provides the list of papers for GI 1999!

Graphics Interface 1998 Best Student Paper

Animating sand, mud, and snow
* Robert Sumner, Georgia Institute of Technology
* James O'Brien, Georgia Institute of Technology
   Jessica Hodgins, Georgia Institute of Technology

Graphics Interface 1997 Best Student Papers

A Starbuck's gift card to whoever provides the list of papers for GI 1997!

Graphics Interface 1996 Best Student Papers

A Starbuck's gift card to whoever provides the list of papers for GI 1996!

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