2012Advanced TechnologyInformation Science
Ivan Edward Sutherland photo

Ivan Edward Sutherland

  • U.S.A. / May 16, 1938
  • Computer Scientist
  • Visiting Scientist, Portland State University

“Pioneering Achievements in the Development of Computer Graphics and Interactive Interfaces”

Dr. Sutherland has been responsible for many pioneering advances and fundamental contributions to the computer graphics technology used for information presentation, as well as the interactive interfaces that allow people to utilize computers without the need for programming.


Brief Biography

Born in Hastings, Nebraska, U.S.A.
Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Head, Information Processing Techniques Office, Advanced Research Projects Agency, U.S. Department of Defense
Associate Professor, Harvard University
Co-Founder and Vice President, Evans and Sutherland Computer Corporation
Professor, University of Utah
Professor, California Institute of Technology
Senior Technical Staff Member, RAND Corporation
Co-Founder and Vice President, Sutherland, Sproull and Associates, Inc.
Vice President and Fellow, Sun Microsystems, Inc.
Visiting Scientist, Portland State University

Selected Awards and Honors

Steven A. Coons Award, ACM (Association for Computing Machinery) SIGGRAPH
Emanuel R. Piore Award, IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers)
Turing Award, ACM
John Von Neumann Medal, IEEE
American Association for the Advancement of Science, ACM, IEEE, National Academy of Engineering, National Academy of Sciences

Selected Publications

Sketchpad: a Man-Machine Graphical Communication System, in Proceedings of the AFIPS Spring Joint Computer Conference 23: 329-346, 1963
The Ultimate Display, in Proceedings of IFIPS Congress 2: 506-508, 1965
A Head-Mounted Three-Dimensional Display, in Proceedings of AFIPS Conference 33: 757-764, 1968
A Characterization of Ten Hidden-Surface Algorithms (with Sproull, R. F. and Schumacker, R. A.), ACM Computing Surveys 6: 1-55, 1974
Logical Effort (with Sproull, R. F. and Harris, D.), Morgan Kauffman, 1999

“Pioneering Achievements in the Development of Computer Graphics and Interactive Interfaces”

Dr. Ivan Edward Sutherland has been responsible for many pioneering advances in and fundamental contributions to the computer graphics technology used for information presentation, as well as the interactive interfaces that allow people to utilize computers without the need for programming.

Computer graphics now have numerous applications, ranging from films, games and other forms of entertainment to educational materials, scientific and technological simulations, and design aids for industrial designers. Most computer graphics in use today can trace their origins back to “Sketchpad,” which was developed by Dr. Sutherland in 1963. Allowing the user to directly manipulate figures on a screen through a pointing device, its interactive interface was years ahead of its time. Sketchpad was capable of automatically generating accurate drawings from rough sketches by depicting the component elements of objects and their interrelationships. Today’s computer-aided design (CAD) system is a highly-influential descendent of this innovative program.

Dr. Sutherland has designed many of the fundamental algorithms now used in computer graphics, such as the algorithm that determines which edges and faces of objects to display on the limited space available on a screen. He also created “The Sword of Damocles,” the world’s first head-mounted 3D display system, thus opening up the new field of virtual reality.

In addition to his research at universities, Dr. Sutherland has been actively involved in product development at various private enterprises. In 1968, he co-founded the Evans and Sutherland Computer Corporation with his colleague at the University of Utah, which developed computer graphics workstations such as the ESV series, among others. Dr. Sutherland’s research group has also produced many talented individuals, such as the founders of Silicon Graphics Inc., Pixar Animation Studios, and Adobe Systems Inc., to name but a few.

Dr. Sutherland who is considered the father of computer graphics for these achievements has made significant contributions to the creation of the world enabling interactive use of computers.

For these reasons, the Inamori Foundation is pleased to present the 2012 Kyoto Prize in Advanced Technology to Dr. Ivan Edward Sutherland.


Abstract of the Lecture

What Things Look Like

People have strong visual memories. We remember people, events, and objects and “see” them again even long after they are gone. Photographs help evoke our own visual memories. A picture of a loved one reminds us of much more than shows in the picture.

People share visual memories. Artists share visual memories in pictures. Poets share visual memories in carefully chosen words. Literature records visual memories in “word pictures.”

Visual memories can be of imaginary things. Unlike photographs, paintings can show things that happened only in the mind of the artist. Authors write fiction that seems real. Poets express human emotions in carefully chosen words. We value the creativity of artists, composers, authors, and animators who show us things that never were, but that might have been.

Pictures help science. The microscope opened a new world of microbes. The telescope revealed Jupiter’s moons to Galileo; no one suspected their existence. New images change forever the way we understand the world in which we live.

Pictures that come from human minds also bring understanding. Like artists who paint things than never were, mathematicians, engineers and scientists make pictures of imaginary things. Such pictures guide our future. A picture of a mathematical curve reveals its properties. The shape of a protein reveals its function. The drawings for a bridge not only reveal what it will look like but also tell how to build it.

Computer graphics is only a tool for creativity. Creations come from inside people. Let us value the human creativity that gives us images of things that never were, or images of things that might be, or images of ideas that help us understand our world. Their medium, be it computer graphics, sketches on paper, equations, or words, is unimportant. Their form is best if their meaning leaps out of the page into human understanding. Their value is that understanding.

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Extrapolating the Future from the Origins of Computer Graphics and Virtual Reality Technologies

Monday, November 12, 2012
Kyoto International Conference Center
Coordinator and Moderator
Hideyuki Tamura (Ritsumeikan University)
Organized by Inamori Foundation
Supported by Kyoto Prefectural Government, Kyoto City Government, NHK
With the cooperation of Computer Graphic Arts Society, Information Processing Society of Japan, The Institute of Electronics, Information and Communication Engineers, The Institute of Image Information and Television Engineers, The Society for Art and Science, The Virtual Reality Society of Japan


Opening Address Hideyuki Tamura
Introduction of Laureate Fujio Yamaguchi (Professor Emeritus, Waseda University)
Laureate’s Lecture Ivan Edward Sutherland
“Computer Graphics: Let Us Distinguish the Medium from the Message”
Lecture Takeo Igarashi (The University of Tokyo)
“Interactive Computer Graphics as Design Tools for the Rest of Us”
Lecture Nassir Navab (Technical University of Munich)
“Medical Augmented Reality: From Early Concepts to First Deployments in Operating Rooms”
Panel Discussion Moderator: Michitaka Hirose (The University of Tokyo)
Panelists: Masahiko Inami (Keio University)
Yoichiro Kawaguchi (The University of Tokyo)
Kiyoshi Kiyokawa (Osaka University)
Hirofumi Seo (M.D.; SCIEMENT, Inc.)