U of U SIGGRAPH Reception

Current and former faculty and alumni from the Kahlert School of Computing gathered for a special U of U reception at the SIGGRAPH conference last week in LA. Thanks to Professor Cem Yuksel and students Elie Diaz, Gaurav Bhokare and Eisen Montalvo for organizing this fun event.

William B. Thompson (1948-2023)

William B. Thompson passed away peacefully in his home in Salt Lake City, Utah, on May 26, 2023. We remember Bill for his enthusiasm for the outdoors, his incredible slide shows and stories, and his scientific contributions and mentoring.  Bill exemplified work-life balance before it was trendy. He combined climbs to the highest peaks in Peru, fly-fishing, and travel around the world with a productive and innovative research program that included a skill for teaching others.

Bill was a Professor of Computer Science from 1975 to 2018, first at the University of Minnesota and then in the School of Computing at the University of Utah. He received his Sc.B in Physics from Brown University and M.S. and Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Southern California. Bill contributed significantly early in his career to the field of computational vision, especially in the areas of visual motion perception and dynamic scene analysis. At the University of Utah, he began a multi-disciplinary research program studying perception and virtual environments at the intersection of computer graphics and visual perception. Although Bill was trained in computer science, throughout his career he befriended and learned from psychologists; through his generous and numerous collaborations, he developed innovative ways to study how human perception and performance and computer graphics interact. His ideas and efforts led to the formation of the interdisciplinary journal ACM Transactions on Applied Perception (TAP) and, in 2004, the first ACM Symposium on Applied Graphics and Visualization (APGV), which became the ACM Symposium on Applied Perception (SAP) in 2012. He published the important multidisciplinary book Visual Perception from a Computer Science Perspective.

Bill was also a committed mentor who thrived on deep discussions with his students and colleagues. He challenged himself and others to step outside of their comfort zones and propose big ideas and new research questions, resulting in numerous impactful grants and projects. He was especially dedicated to advancing women scholars in computer science. He leaves a legacy of former students and collaborators across multiple universities and departments who continue to benefit from their time knowing, working, and adventuring with him. He is survived by his life partner, Barbara Miller, sister, Elizabeth Thompson, and many close friends and colleagues.