Video feature: 'Cynthia Lu: The Art of Computer Science'

March 18, 2013 noon
Computer Art index

In her work with computer graphics, Princeton graduate student Jingwan "Cynthia" Lu is working to translate handmade artist brushstrokes into digital painting programs.

Video stills courtesy of Teresa Riordan

Jingwan "Cynthia" Lu, a fourth-year graduate student in computer science at Princeton University, is redefining the way an artist can "paint" with digital strokes on a computer.

Lu started working on her digital stroke stylization research during a summer internship at Adobe Systems in 2011. In this video, she discusses her research and how it allows her to bring her interests in various art forms to her work.

She continues to work closely with collaborators at Adobe in the fields of digital art and video conferencing, and Google has granted Lu a two-year graduate fellowship in artistic media. In 2012, she presented a paper on the research at SIGGRAPH, the premier computer graphics conference.

"Cynthia has been a delightful collaborator — she's insightful, creative and energetic," said Adam Finkelstein, a professor of computer science and Lu's adviser. "These qualities combined with a deep appreciation for algorithms and mathematics have made her remarkably productive in her time at Princeton."

A native of Beijing, Lu earned her undergraduate degree in computer science and mathematics from Hong Kong University of Science and Technology in 2009.

Lu's nonacademic interests are wide-ranging and include painting, figure skating and dancing, especially Argentine tango. These extracurricular activities inform her research in surprising ways.

"Tango involves a lot of intricate movements that in a way echo the kind of intricate patterns I work with in computer graphics," Lu said.

Lu's work is one of many examples of interdisciplinary projects spanning art and engineering at Princeton.

Dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science H. Vincent Poor said that while art may seem remote from the problems that computer scientists and engineers normally tackle, in fact, "when these disciplines collide they can yield new and exciting results."