Old Well

Department of Computer Science
College of Arts and Sciences
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

COMP259: Physically-Based Modeling, Simulation and Animation

COMP 259: Physically-Based Modeling, Simulation and Animation

Instructor: Ming C. Lin

Time and Place: TR 2:00-3:15pm, SN115
Office Hours: TR 3:15-4:15pm, SN223
Prerequisites: Math 166 AND COMP136 OR Instructor's approval
Textbook: Course Notes and In-Class Handouts


  • Course Overview
  • Lectures and Approximate Schedule
  • Course Reading Materials
  • Assignments and Projects
  • WEBS of Physically-Based Modeling & Animation
  • Geometric Algorithms & Software Available on the Web
  • Additional Reference Materials
  • Conferences in Related Areas
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    Physically-based modeling and simulation attempts to map a natural phenomena to a computer simulation program. There are two basic processes in this mapping: mathematical modeling and numerical solution. The goal of this course is to understand both of them. The mathematical modeling concerns the description of natural phenomena by mathematical equations. Differential equations that govern dynamics and geometric representation of objects are typical ingredients of the mathematical model. The numerical solution involves computing an efficient and accurate solution of the mathematical equations. Finite precision of numbers, limited computational power and memory forces us to approximate the mathematical model with simple procedures.

    In this course, we will study various techniques to simulate the physical and mechanical behavior of objects in a graphical simulation or a virtual environment. Students will learn about implementation of basic simulation programs that produce interesting results and verify its correctness. The course will cover three basic components in physically-based modeling and simulation:

  • Geometry
  • Collision Detection
  • Computing Contact Manifolds
  • Mechanics
  • Particle Dynamics
  • Rigid Body Dynamics
  • Non-Rigid Body Dynamics
  • Numerical Computing
  • Initial Value Problems
  • Boundary Value Problems
  • Constraints & Differential-Algebraic Equations
  • The goal of this class is to get students an appreciation of computational methods for modeling of motions in the physical and virtual world. We will discuss various considerations and tradeoffs used in designing simulation methodologies (e.g. time, space, robustness, and generality). This will include data structures, algorithms, computational methods and simulation techniques, their complexity and implementation. The lectures will also cover some applications of physically-based modeling and simulation to the following areas:
  • Computer Animation
  • Virtual Environments
  • Medical Simulation and Analysis
  • Special Effects Generation
  • Computer Game Dynamics
  • Rapid Prototyping for Design
  • Haptic Rendering/Interfaces
  • Robotics and Automation
  • Bio-informatics
  • Depending on the interests of the students, we may also cover geometric-based simulation techniques, such as constraint-based systems, inverse dynamics, kinematics of motions, motion planning, synethesis and generation of autonomous agents.




    Here is a list of TENTATIVE lecture topics (subject to changes). Schedule and information on each topic (e.g. readings, web pointers) will be added during the semester before each class.

  • Overview (Thur, Jan 13, 2005)
  • Basics of Motion Generations for Animation (Tues, Jan 18, 2005)
  • ODE Basics: Initial Value Problem (Thur, Jan 20, 2005)
  • ODE & Intro to Particle System Dynamics (Tues, Jan 25, 2005)
  • Particle System Dynamics (Thur, Jan 27, 2005)
  • Particle Sysem Dynamics Simplification (Tues, Feb 1, 2005)
  • Hair Modeling & Simulation (Thur, Feb 3, 2005)
  • Constrained Dynamics (Tues, Feb 8, 2005)
  • Implicit Methods with Additional Notes (Thur, Feb 10, 2005)
  • In-Class Demos (HW#1) (Tues, Feb 15, 2005)
  • Review on Comp Geom (Thur, Feb 17, 2005)
  • Collision Detection: Basics & Convex Polyhedra (Tues, Feb 22, 2005)
  • Collision Detection: BVHs & Spatial Partitioning (Thur, Feb 24, 2005)
  • Continuous Collision Detection (Tues, Mar 1, 2005)
  • Collision Detection: BVHs & Spatial Partitioning (Thur, Mar 3, 2005)
  • Rigid Body Dynamics (I) (Tues, Mar 8, 2005)
  • Rigid Body Dynamics (II) (Thur, Mar 10, 2005)
  • SPRING BREAK (March 14-18, 2005)
  • Guest Lecture on Texture Synethesis & Animation (Tues, Mar 22, 2005)
  • Group Behaviors & Artificial Life (Thur, Mar 24, 2005)
  • Haptic Rendering (Tues, Mar 29, 2005)
  • Intro to Deformable Body Dynamics (Thur, Mar 31, 2005)
  • Finite Element Methods (Tues, Apr 5, 2005)
  • In-Class Demos (HW#3) (Thur, Apr 7, 2005)
  • Skeleton-Driven Deformation(Tues, Apr 12, 2005)
  • Project Progress Report (Thur, Apr 14, 2005)
  • Intro to Comp. Fluid Dynamics (Tues, Apr 12, 2005)
  • Interaction between Fluid & Objects (Thurs, Apr 19, 2005)
  • Physically-based Sound (Tues, Apr 26, 2005)
  • Harmonic Analysis and Applications in Natural Phenomena (Thurs, Apr 28, 2005)
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    Reference Papers Used in Lectures:

  • SIGGRAPH Course Notes on Physically-Based Modeling
  • Reading List for the Class (updated throughout the semester)

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    Line The class grade of each student is determined by
  • Homework (30%)
  • Class Presentation (20%)
  • Final Project (50%)
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  • UNC Research Group on Geometric Algorithms for Modeling, Motion and Animation
  • UNC Interactive Collision Detection and Proximity Queries Packages
  • Simlab: Computer Tools for Analysis and Simulation (Cornell)
  • iMAGIS (GRAVIR / IMAG research lab / INRIA)
  • Center for Human Modeling and Simulation(UPENN)
  • MIRALab (University of Geneva)
  • Rutgers Computational Biomedicine Imaging and Modeling (Rutgers)
  • National Advanced Driving Simulator
  • University of Aukland, Bioengineering Research Group

  • Norman Badler
  • David Baraff (now at Pixar)
  • David Breen
  • Chris Bregler
  • Marie-Paule Cani
  • Jessica Hodgins
  • Michael Gleicher
  • Dimitris Metaxas
  • Brian Mirtich (now at Cognex)
  • Richard Parent
  • Daniel Thalmann
  • Nadia Magnenat-Thalmann
  • Demetri Terzopoulos
  • Michiel van de Panne
  • Andy Witkin's Gallery (now at Pixar)

  • Boston Dynamics Inc.
  • Chris Hecker's Corner (Definition Six, Inc.)
  • GamaNetwork
  • Havok
  • Immersion Corporation
  • MAYA (Alias|Wavefront)
  • MSC.Working Knowledge
  • Pixar Animation Studios
  • Rhythm & Hues Studios
  • SensAble Technology
  • Telekinesys
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    Line Here are just some possible locations to find geometric software/libraries and algorithmic toolkits you may need:
  • Internet Finite Element Resources
  • A comprehensive collection of geometric software
  • CGAL: Computational Geometry Algorithms Library (in C++)
  • LEDA: Library of Efficient Datatypes and Algorithms (in C++)
  • The Stony Brook Algorithm Repository: Implementation in C, C++, Pascal and Fortran
  • CMU's Computer Vision Homepage
  • Finite element mesh generation and More
  • Machine learning resources
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    Other Reference Books in Computer Animation:

  • Making Them Move: Mechanics, Control and Animation of Articulated Figures, by Badler, Barsky and Zelter, Morgan Kaufmann Publishers, 1991.
  • Advanced Animation and Rendering Techniques: Theory and Practice, by A. Watt and M. Watt, 1992.
  • Computer Animation: Algorithms and Techniques, by Rick Parent, 1999.
  • Other Reference Books in Mechanics:

  • Concepts and Applications of Finite Element Analysis, by R. D. Cook, D. S. Malkus and M. E. Plesha, John Wiley & Sons, 1989.
  • Finite Element Procedures, by K.-J. Bathe, Prentice Hall, 1996.
  • First Course in Continuum Mechanics, by Y.C. Fung, Prentice Hall, 1993.
  • Other Reference Books in Numerical Methods:

  • Numerical Recipes, by Press, Flanner, Teukolsky and Vetterling, Cambridge University Press.
  • Handbook of Numerical Analysis, edited by Ciarlet and Lions, Vol. I - VI, North-Holland, 1994.
  • Other Reference Books in Robotics:

  • Robot Motion Planning, by Latombe, Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1991.
  • Robot Manipulators: Mathematics, Programming, and Control, by R. P. Paul, MIT Press, 1981.
  • Other Reference Books in Geometry:

  • Computational Geometry (Algorithms and Applications), by de Berg, van Kreveld, Overmars and Schwarzkofp, Springer-Verlag, 1997.
  • Computational Geometry In C (Second Edition), by O'Rourke, Cambridge University Press, 1998.
  • Handbook on Discrete and Computational Geometry, by Goodman and O'Rourke (eds), CRC Press LLC, 1997.
  • Applied Computational Geometry: Toward Geometric Engineering, by Lin and Manocha (eds), Springer-Verlag, 1996.
  • Algorithms in Combinatorial Geometry, by Edelsbrunner, Springer-Verlag, 1987.
  • Computational Geometry (An Introduction), by Preparata and Shamos, Springer-Verlag, 1985.
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    For more information, contact Ming C. Lin, lin@cs.unc.edu.

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