TITLE: Seeing and Getting the Power AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: August 22, 2007 8:08 PM DESC: ----- BODY: After six months of increased blogging output, if not blog quality, August has hit me head on. Preparing for vacation. Vacation. Digging out of backlog from vacation. Getting ready for fall semester. The start of the semester. At least now I have some time and reason to spend energy on my compilers course! The algorithm geeks among you might enjoy this frequently-referenced and very cool demo of a graphics technique called Content-Aware Image Sizing, presented by Ariel Shamir at SIGGRAPH earlier this month (in San Diego just before I arrived for the above-mentioned vacation). I think that this will make a neat example for my algorithms the next time I teach it. (It's on tap for next spring.) Algorithmically, the idea is cool but seems straightforward enough. To me, what is most impressive is having the idea in the first place. One of the things I love about following research in other areas of computer science -- and even in areas far beyond CS -- is seeing how thinkers who understand a domain deeply create and apply new ideas. This particular idea will be so useful on the web and in media of the future. The guy who sent the link said it well:
SIGGRAPH has a way of reminding me that in many ways I'm the dumb kid at the back of the classroom.
I feel the same way sometimes, but I usually don't mind. There is much to learn. Still, I hope that by the end of this semester my compilers students don't feel this way about compilers. I'd like them to appreciate that a compiler is "just another program" -- that they can learn techniques which make building a compiler straightforward and even fun. What looks like magic becomes understanding, without losing its magical aura. -----