An extended, very general bio...

Larry Yaeger is a programmer-scientist-educator who has made leading technical contributions in a variety of fields. He was educated in Aerospace Engineering at Purdue University (B.S.) and Polytechnic Institute of New York (M.S.). He is currently a Full Professor in the School of Informatics at Indiana University, researching and teaching Artificial Life. He also maintains a one day/week affiliation with Apple Computer in his role as a Distinguished Scientist, working on pen, ink, and handwriting recognition issues. He both commutes and telecommutes from scenic Beanblossom, Indiana.

Mr. Yaeger's original work in computational fluid dynamics helped produce what were probably the first fully three-dimensional hypersonic flow field studies over the space shuttle, for Grumman Aerospace. As part of this work he co-developed a novel three-dimensional geometry modeling system ("Quick") in 1972 that is still in use today. He also carried out pioneering fluid dynamics studies for aircraft engines, laser cavities, rocket engines, and other systems, including the world's first whole-body computational solution for flow over a submarine (incorporating hull effects, lifting surface flows, and turbulent wake effects).

Turning to computer graphics, Mr. Yaeger served as Director of Software Development for essentially the full life of the pioneering computer special effects house, Digital Productions, from 1982 to 1987. He also acted as Vice President of Software during the final year's merger with Omnibus Computer Graphics and Robert Abel and Associates. His work on the primary rendering software, DP3D, led to the production of the first feature film to utilize "photo-realistic" special effects in place of models and miniatures, integrated with live action: The Last Starfighter. (All prior use of computer graphics in film had been used to portray... computer graphics.) He also personally acted as Technical Director and created the effects for the planet Jupiter in the film 2010, and the flying-owl opening title sequence of the Jim Henson/George Lucas film Labyrinth, for which he received the NCGA Best Computer Animation award of 1986. His software and technical guidance also led to the creation of a variety of Clio and NCGA award-winning television commercials. Mr. Yaeger's paper on the simulation of Jupiter for 2010, in the SIGGRAPH '86 proceedings, has been credited as the first application of a vorticity model in computer graphics for imaging fluids. The techniques developed for 2010 fed into the scientific visualization efforts at Digital Productions, and spread from there, with key staff, to NCSA, and helped spawn the current renaissance of scientific visualization. Mr. Yaeger later co-authored possibly the first book+CD-ROM title, Visualization of Natural Phenomena, on the subject of scientific visualization, which garnered both the Computer Press Association's "Best (Nonfiction) Computer Book of 1993" and the American Association of Publishers Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division's second place for "Best New Electronic Product of 1993".

Joining Alan Kay's Vivarium Program at Apple Computer in 1987, Mr. Yaeger extended Terry Sejnowski's famous NETtalk neural network speech synthesizer work to include phonemic stress prediction; designed and programmed a computer "voice" for Koko the gorilla; helped introduce Macintoshes into routine production on
Star Trek: The Next Generation; and created a widely respected Artificial Life computational ecology ("PolyWorld") that evolves neural architectures resulting from the mutation and recombination of genetic codes, via behavior-based, sexual reproduction of artificial organisms. Originally presented at the Artificial Life III conference in Santa Fe in 1992, PolyWorld and Mr. Yaeger's seminal publication on this subject continue to inspire interest and research in the field, including through use as teaching materials at universities worldwide. He has been invited to lecture in Japan, Austria, Monaco, Banff, Cambridge and elsewhere with other top ALife researchers, and Steven Levy (Hackers) used PolyWorld to introduce the subject in his book on Artificial Life: The Quest for a New Creation..

As part of Apple's Advanced Technology Group, Mr. Yaeger was principal author and Technical Lead in the development of a neural network-based handwriting recognition technology that many have deemed the "first usable" such technology in the world. This technology shipped as the "Print Recognizer" in second and subsequent generation Newton PDAs. It was hailed for "saving" the Newton at the time, though other issues led to the platform's ultimate demise. Mr. Yaeger designed and implemented the integrated recognition and segmentation scheme, co-designed the language/context model, designed and wrote the neural network library used for the character classifier at the heart of the system, and conceived, implemented and tested innovative neural network learning algorithms and training techniques to increase recognition accuracy. He also designed and developed the word segmentation model and a method of fragmentating and re-joining strokes that permits the latest version of the system to recognize connected characters. Mr. Yaeger is lead author of a NIPS '96 paper that presents some of the neural network details of this system, a a more comprehensive review of the entire system in AAAI's AI Magazine, and a chapter in the Neural Networks: Tricks of the Trade book. Mr. Yaeger subsequently integrated this technology into Mac OS X's user interface as "Inkwell".

Mr. Yaeger holds various patents issued and pending in the areas of collision detection and handwriting recognition. He has published key papers in each of the areas in which he has worked, and has spoken widely on the subjects of computer graphics, artificial life, and handwriting recognition. He has received a variety of awards for his pioneering efforts, including the Grumman Project Sterling Award for New Technology, the NASA New Technology Award, the Rocketdyne President's Achievement Award, and the "Best Digital World" award at the Artificial Life III conference. His interest in artificial life remained wholely unabated, despite a focus on more immediately deployable technologies for a number of years. He has now returned to reesearch and teaching in the field of Artificial Life in the School of Informatics at Indiana University.