Cinema uses computers to animate physics. Special effects such as explosions and lifelike depictions of imaginary characters are made possible by mathematical and computational models that capture qualitative, characteristic behavior of a mechanical system. This is scientific computing with a twist. I will describe the process by which we derive and compute models of physics, and show actual examples of resulting technologies in film, consumer products, physics, and medicine.

Our research group develops scientific computing tools by focusing on the underlying geometry of the mechanical system. I will describe a process in which we build a discrete picture from the ground up, mimicking the axioms, structures, and symmetries of the smooth setting. I will survey the problems we address using this methodology, such as computing the motion of flexible surfaces, cloth, hair, honey, and solids experiencing mechanical contact. Industry and academia has adopted these methods to improve products such as Adobe Photoshop, films such as Disney's Tangled (whose release date coincides with this talk), train surgeons, and understand nonlinear soft-matter phenomena.

THIS COLLOQUIUM IS JOINTLY SPONSORED BY FIELDS INSTITUTE RESEARCH IN MATHEMATICAL SCIENCES AND THE DEPARTMENT OF PHYSICS.

Prof. Grinspun will also be giving a talk on " Discrete Elastic Rods and Viscous Threads" at Fields Institute on Wednesday, November 24th at 3:10 p.m. For more information, please visit http://www.fields.utoronto.ca/programs/scientific/10-11/physics/index.html