ACM/NSF Strategic Directions in Computing Research
Rather than proselytize for the significance of my own
research area, visibility, I would like to use this forum to
emphasize the need for the Computational Geometry community
to make its results available and accessible to the wider
First I will list a variety of current activities aimed at exactly
this broadening: our successes. Second I will propose
several further steps I believe we should take to extend the effort.
The community maintains an electronic bibliography of over 7,000
references in Computational Geometry.
Bill Jones orchestrates the quarterly updates provided by the
community, and upgrades the search software. It has developed
into a unique and useful resource.
- Usenet newsgroups.
Five prominent researchers in Computational Geometry
participate actively in the Usenet newsgroup
(Ken Clarkson, David Eppstein, Jeff Erickson, Seth Teller, and me;
in fact I am the current
Our participation serves a dual purpose: we show the graphics community
that Computational Geometry can answer some of their questions;
and they provide us with applications and a feel for what is
important to them.
For many years, there was only one textbook, aimed at graduate
students in Computer Science. The landscape is now changing,
making the field accessible to undergraduates and to workers
in various applied areas. A new text by Mark Overmars et al. focusing
on applications is expected soon.
There are two handbooks "in press": North Holland (Ed. Jorg Sack and
Jorge Urrutia) and CRC Press (Ed. J.E. Goodman and me).
These compendiums of current research will become resources for
researchers in other fields.
- Research Monographs.
More top researchers are pausing to write monographs. A notable
example is the recently published book by Sharir and Agarwal on
Davenport-Schinzel Sequences and their Geometric Applications.
Both Herbert Edelsbrunner and I write regular
"Comptuational Geometry Columns" for professional newsletters
(EATACS and SIGACT respectively). These inform researchers
in other areas of Computer Science of the latest results in
Computational Geometry. Herve Bronnimann produces a
Computational Geometry Newsletter.
Nina Amenta compiled a collection of pointers to Computational
Geometry software into a Geometry Center
- Institutionalize the important resources.
I am concerned that some of the most important efforts listed above
are voluntary, dependent upon one individual. It would be
safest if the projects were supported by the community in a more
formal way. Nina Amenta has left the Geometry Center; will anyone
replace her as the maintainer of the software directory?
If Bill Jones tires of the bibliography project, will it continue?
- Software Testbeds.
There is currently no easy way to compare algorithms. It would be
very useful to have collections of standard test data that algorithm
designers could run their code on and compare performance with other
code run on the same input.
Computer Science has few popularizers. Compare the situation with
Mathematics or Physics. Brian Hayes's "Computing Science"
column in the American Scientist is a notable exception.
- Algorithms Compendiums.
Computational Geometry would benefit greatly from the
Numerical Recipes in C or
the Graphics Gems series.
- NSF Grant Pages.
NSF grants should require investigators to produce a Web page
for each grant, from which the papers and software and other
results of the grant are accessible.