Ken Perlin

Professor of Computer Science
New York University
NYU Media Research Laboratory;
715 Broadway, Rm 1202, NY, NY 10003
(212) 998-3386
perlin AT mrl DOT nyu DOT edu

Educational experience:

2/86 Ph.D. in Computer Science at Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, New York University, Computer Science Dept. Thesis: ``Simulating Realistic Textures by the Composition of Perceptually Motivated Functions'' Advisor: David Lowe.

6/84 M.S. in Computer Science at Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, New York University.

7/79 B.A. in Theoretical Mathematics at Harvard University.



Director, NYU Games for Learning Institute.


Professor, NYU Media Research Laboratory, Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, New York University.


Director, NYU Center for Advanced Technology.


Associate Professor, Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, New York University.


Assistant Professor, Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, New York University.


Research scientist, Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, New York University.


Head of Software Development, R/GREENBERG Associates, NY, NY.


Research scientist, Mathematical Applications Group, Inc., Elmsford, NY. After 9/81 was System Architect of SynthaVision system for computer generated animation.



ACM/SIGGRAPH Computer Graphics Acheivement Award.


TrapCode award for achievement in computer graphics research.


First featured Net Artist at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 2004.


New York University Sokol Faculty Award in the Sciences.

New York City Mayor's Award for Excellence in Science and Technology.


Technical Achievement Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, for the development of Perlin Noise, a technique used to produce natural appearing textures on computer generated surfaces for motion picture visual effects


National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator Award.


Janet Fabri Memorial Award for outstanding doctoral dissertation.

Some Publications and Invited Talks:


World Builders: Building Towards Intuitive MultiUser Content Creation in Virtual Reality, Xia, H., Herscher, S., Perlin, K., Wigdor D., SIGCHI 2018 VR Workshop.


Mechanical force redistribution: enabling seamless, large-format, high-accuracy surface interaction Grau, A., Hendee, C., Rizzo, J., Perlin, K. SIGCHI 2014.


IMPAD: An Inexpensive Multitouch Pressure Acquisition Device, UIST'08 Demo, Monterey, October, 2008.

Invited keynote, DarkLight Festival, Dublin, June 2008.

"Games for Learning" (with Jan Plass), Games for Change Summit, New York, June 2008.

Invited talk, University of Maryland, May 2008.

Invited keynote, GCDSE Conference, February 2008.


Invited talk, CUNY, New York, December 2007.

Invited keynote, VIEW Conference, Turin, November 2007.

Invited talk, Microsoft Faculty Summit, Redmond, July 2007.

Invited talk, AIIDE Conference, Stanford, June 2007.

Plass, J. L, Goldman, R., Flanagan, M., Diamond, J., Dong, C., Looui, S., Hyuksoon Song, H., Rosalia, C. & Perlin, K. RAPUNSEL: How a computer game designed based on educational theory can improve girls. self-efficacy and self-esteem. Proceedings of the American Educational Research Association , Chicago, April 2007

Invited talk, University of New Mexico, NM, April 2007.

Invited keynote, GCDSE Conference, February 2007.

Invited talk, Microsoft Research, Bangalore, January 2007.


Invited talk, Montreal International Games Summit, Montreal, November 2006.

Invited talk, Develop Conference, Brighton, July 2006.

Invited talk, Imagina, Monte Carlo, January 2006.


Toward Interactive Narrative. Ken Perlin, International Conference on Virtual Storytelling 2005: 135-147

The Rapunsel Project Ken Perlin, Mary Flanagan, Andrea Hollingshead, International Conference on Virtual Storytelling 2005: 251-259


Physical Objects as Bidirectional User Interface Elements , Dan Rosenfeld, Michael Zawadzki, Jeremi Sudol, Ken Perlin, IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications; Vol. 24 No. 1.


Measuring Bidirectional Texture Reflectance With a Kaleidoscope, Jefferson Y. Han, Ken Perlin, Computer Graphics; Vol. 36 No. 3.


Improving Noise, Computer Graphics; Vol. 35 No. 3.


Procedural Shape Synthesis on Subdivision Surfaces Luiz Velho, Ken Perlin, Lexing Ying, Henning Biermann, Proc. Symposium on Computer Graphics and Image Processing (SIBGRAPI) 2001.

Recent Advances in the NYU Autostereoscopic Display, K. Perlin, C. Poultney, J. Kollin, D. Kristjansson, S. Paxia Proceedings of the SPIE, Vol. 4297. San Jose, California. January 22-24, 2001.

Flow Noise K. Perlin, F. Neyret, SIGGRAPH Technical Sketches and Applications, August 2001.


An Autostereocopic Display, with Salvatore Paxia and Joel Kollin, Computer Graphics; Vol. 33 No. 3.

Responsive Actors in Shared Virtual Worlds, 2000 International Conference on Virtual Worlds and Simulation, San Diego.


Nested User Interface Components, with Jon Meyer, ACM UIST 99, Asheville, Nov 7-9, 1999.

Human-Guided Greedy Search: Combining Information Visualization and Heuristic Search David Anderson, E. Anderson, N. Lesh, J. Marks, K. Perlin, D. Ratajczack, and K. Ryall, CIKM'99: Workshop on New Paradigms in Information Visualization and Manipulation, Kansas City, Nov 6, 1999.

Texturing and Modeling; A Procedural Approach, Second Edition; Ebert D. et al, AP Professional; Cambridge 1998.; chapter entitled: "Noise, Hypertexture, Antialiasing and Gestures"

Improvisational Animation, with Athomas Goldberg 1999 International Conference on Virtual Worlds and Simulation, San Francisco.


Quikwriting: Continuous Stylus-based Text Entry, ACM UIST 98 Technical Sketch

Texturing and Modeling; A Procedural Approach, Second Edition; Ebert D. et al, AP Professional; Cambridge 1998.; chapter entitled: "Noise, Hypertexture, Antialiasing and Gestures"


Layered Compositing of Facial Expression, ACM SIGGRAPH 97 Technical Sketch


Pad++: A Zoomable Graphical Sketchpad for Exploring Alternate Interface Physics. Bederson, B., Hollan, J., Perlin, K., Meyer, J., Bacon, D., and Furnas, G., Journal of Visual Languages and Computing, 7, 3-31, 1996.

Improv: A System for Scripting Interactive Actors in Virtual Worlds with Athomas Goldberg, Computer Graphics; Vol. 29 No. 3.


Live Paint: Painting with Procedural Multiscale Textures; with Luiz Velho, Computer Graphics; Vol. 28; No. 3.

Real Time Responsive Animation with Personality, IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics; Vol 1 No. 1.


Texturing and Modeling; A Procedural Approach; Ebert D. et al, AP Professional; Cambridge 1994.; chapter entitled: "Noise, Hypertexture, Antialiasing and Gesture"


Pad: An Alternative Approach to the Computer Interface; with David Fox, 1993 Computer Graphics (proceedings of ACM SIGGRAPH Conference); Vol. 26 No. 3.

This paper describes a spatial metaphor for computer interface design, providing an intuitive base for the support of such applications as electronic marketplaces, information services, and on-line collaboration. Pad is an infinite two dimensional information plane that is shared among users, much as a network file system is shared. occupies a well defined region on the Pad surface. We describe the Pad interface, we discuss how to efficiently implement its graphical aspects, and we illustrate some representative applications.


A New Scheme for Drawing Hypergraphs; with M.V. Kritz, vol. 49 no. 1+2 of the International J. of Computer Mathematics

A ``hypergraph'' over a set S is a graph whose nodes are subsets of S. Visualizing hypergraphs has always been problematic. We describe a fundamentally new scheme to visualize and interact with hypergraphs, based on a dynamic multiscale representation.

Procedural Texture Synthesis, section in Computer Graphics Encyclopedia; Kodansha Dai-Ichi Shuppan Publishing; Tokyo.

Synopsis of how to use parametrically controlled procedural models to create widely varying visual textures.


Controlling 3-D objects by sketching their 2-D projections; with Ronie Hecker, Sensor Fusion V/IRCV Program; SPIE Conference paper 1828-06 Nov. 1992.

Using simple freehand drawn sketches to animate three dimensional articulated figures. The interesting part is resolving front/back ambiguities without burdening the user.

Procedural Modeling and Rendering Techniques, Course; ACM SIGGRAPH Conference. Vol. 26 No. 3.

Practical tips and techniques for modeling and rendering Hypertexture.


Advanced Techniques in Volumetric Modeling, Course; ACM SIGGRAPH Conference. Vol. 25 No. 3.

Using freeform wavelets for rendering, given only surface sample points with local gradients. Allows variable "fuzziness"; good for soft focus, fuzzy shadows, and scattered light propagation.

Multiscale Interfaces for Collaborative Work, NSF Coordination Theory and Collaboration Technology Workshop; June 3-5 1991.

Describes the application of multiscale interfaces to network based on-line collaboration and information exchange.

A Multiscale Approach to Interactive Display Organization, Workshop in ``Navigation Through Information Spaces''; ACM SIGCHI 91.

Presents an alternative to Window/Icon based interfaces that allows users to handle infinite quantities of information at arbitrary scales through recursive zoomable views and hyperlinks on a virtual surface.


Hypertexture; with Eric Hoffert, 1989 Computer Graphics (proceedings of ACM SIGGRAPH Conference); Vol. 23 No. 3.

Procedurally generated textures evaluated throughout volumes to synthesize the appearance of highly textural shapes: flame, fluids, eroded materials, fur. An extension of results from {\it Image Synthesizer} paper to shape synthesis.

Simulation Software for the Utah/MIT Dextrous Hand; with James Demmel and Paul Wright, International Journal of Robotics and Computer Integrated Manufacturing; Vol. 5 No. 4.

A simulation environment for evaluating transitions within a proposed grasp taxonomy for the Utah/MIT robotic hand.


Function Based Computer Graphics Modeling, Course; ACM SIGGRAPH Conference. Vol. 22 No. 3.

Several new methods of rendering isosurfaces of implicit functions.

Efficient Approximation of Shadow Penumbra; with Xue Dong Yang, NYU Robotics Technical Report.

Technique for inexpensive visual approximation of penumbra, using occlusion distance to index into masking pyramids.


An Image Synthesizer, Computer Graphics; Vol. 19 No. 3. (also in Computer Graphics: Image Synthesis; IEEE Salem 1988)

Combines five ideas for visual texture synthesis:

  • R3 as the texture domain,
  • an intermediate ``point/normal pixel'' format,
  • allow arbitrary procedural mappings from point/normal pixels => intensity,
  • a powerful primitive for introducing controllable noise,
  • an interactive language and environment for texture design. Used to create realistic visual textures of: marble, water waves, fire, clouds, oil films.
Uses of Integration in Image Synthesis, Course on State of the Art in Image Synthesis; ACM SIGGRAPH Conference. Vol. 19 No. 3.

Describes applications of readily integrable functions and preintegrated tables and images in visual simulation, including image blurring, feature blending, and atmospheric modeling and rendering.


A Unified Texture/Reflectance Model, Course on Advanced Image Synthesis; ACM SIGGRAPH Conference. Vol. 18 No. 3.

Describes a method to unify surface perturbation and light reflectance models, allowing smooth transitions between them as visual scale changes in computer graphic rendering.

Patents (partial list):


Granted: U.S. Patent 5764794 Method and apparatus for electronically storing alphanumeric characters.


Submitted: A method and apparatus for writing.
Submitted, A method and apparatus for autostereoscopic display.


Submitted, with Athomas Goldberg: Directably Autonomous Improvisational Animation.


Granted, with Prof. Jacob Schwartz, U.S. Patent 5341466: Fractal computer user interface with zooming capability describes the "Pad" multiscale alternative to window systems. Pad allows a user to handle an unlimited quantity of information at arbitrarily small scale through recursive zoomable magnifying glasses on a virtual surface.

Graduated Ph.D. students:

Hubert Chang
Aaron Hertzmann
Andruid Kerne
David Fox
Matthew Fuchs
Xue-Dong Yang

Professional Participation:

Member, Association of Computing Machinery and ACM Siggraph Board of Directors, NY Siggraph; Have been a reviewer for ACM SIGGRAPH every year since 1985. Have also reviewed for IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications and The Visual Computer. Have been a member of four National Science Foundation grant proposal review panels. Have presented invited papers at Universities including Berkeley, Columbia, MIT, Princeton, Stanford, and Yale, and at corporate research centers including Apple Computer, BellCore, Bell Laboratories, IBM, Interval Research, MERL, Microsoft, NYNEX, and Xerox PARC.

Participation at ACM/SIGGRAPH98 conference in Orlando (July 20-24, 1998): Sid and the Penguins (an interactive film at Electronic Theatre); Course instructor: Virtual Humans: Behaviors and Physics, Acting and Reacting; Panelist: Dis-Illusion of Life: Becoming a Digital Character Animator; Panelist: Behavioral Modeling and Animation: Past, Present, and Future; Presenter: Web3D roundup; Presenter: Digital Campfire; Participant: SIGGRAPH Bowl III.

Additional Experience

Worked on numerous award winning commercials while at R/Greenberg Associates. System designer and project leader of Where the Wild Things Are animation test at MAGI with Walt Disney Productions, winner of 1985 I.N.A. International Computer Graphics Conference at Monte Carlo Grand Prize for Animation. Developed large part of the software for Walt Disney Productions' 1982 feature film TRON. Have developed software for numerous commercial and feature film projects. Frequent invited speaker on computer graphics at research labs, conferences and universities around the world. Have had computer graphic imagery appearing in numerous books, art exhibitions and periodicals.