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On completion of a 164km hike from Chamonix to Zermatt, July 2008

W. Randolph Franklin is a Professor in the Electrical, Computer, and Systems Engineering Dept, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Troy NY USA), with a courtesy joint appointment in the Computer Science Dept. At RPI, he is manager of the Computational Geometry Lab. His current major NSF research project is to understand the mathematics of terrain. His most recent NSF project, together with Cutler and Zimmie, was analyzing how levees erode when overtopped, and testing models in a geotechnical centrifuge. Subprojects include compressing terrain while preserving slope, compressing multidimensional environmental data, and extending partial hydrological data to a complete and consistent river network.


His research hobby is designing and implementing small, simple, and fast data structures and algorithms for large geometric datasets. Note that efficiency in both space and time can become more important as machines get faster. This research is applicable to computational cartography, computer graphics, computational geometry, and geographic information science.

His previous major project compressed and operated on terrain for DARPA/DSO/GeoStar. The operations included multiple observer siting and path planning. His longterm unreachable goal is to establish terrain modeling on a proper formal foundation that respects its physical properties.


During 2000-2002 Franklin served a rotation to the National Science Foundation, as Director of the Numeric, Symbolic, and Geometric Computation Program. He was one of the prime movers of the two Computational Algorithms and Representations for Geometric Objects (CARGO) solicitations, joint between NSF and DARPA/DSO.


Franklin has held visiting positions in EECS at UC Berkeley (as Visiting Professor), the US Army Topographic Engineering Center, Ft Belvoir, the Dipartimento di Informatica e Scienze dell'Informazione, Università degli Studi di Genova, Italy, the Dept. de Science Géodésique, University of Laval, Quebec City, Canada, the Division of Information Technology, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, Canberra, Australia, and the Institute of Systems Science, National University of Singapore. He also helped found 2 defunct hi-tech startups, Hudson Data Systems, and Attic Graphics, Inc. He is an incorporator and board member of the Institute for Infrastructure Asset Management.

Franklin's degrees are from Toronto (BSc, Computer Science), and Harvard (AM & PhD, Mathematica Accomodata), where his advisor was Harry Lewis. His non-degree education includes Georgetown University's Governmental Affairs Institute's Congressional Operations Seminar.


Franklin's awards include an NSF Presidential Young Investigator award, an RPI Early Career Award, and being a significant contributor to the National Electrical Engineering Department Heads Association (NEEDHA) Innovative Program Award to RPI's ECSE Dept. for undergrad computer engineering studio course development. His professional service includes five site visits on behalf of the Computer Science Accreditation Board, membership in the Union College Computer Engineering Program advisory committee, and the usual reviewing and panelizing.


He has developed and/or taught: Computing Fundamentals (freshman), Computer Organization and Logic Design (sophomore), Introduction to Engineering Design (sophomore/junior), Engineering Probability (junior), Computer Microprocessor Lab (junior), Computer Graphics (senior), Interactive Computer Aided Design (senior), Programming Languages (senior), Data Structures (senior), Applied Parallel Computing for Engineers (senior), Advanced 3D Computer Graphics and Visualization (graduate) Software Engineering (graduate), Computational Geometry (graduate), and many individual reading courses. His Computer Graphics course (ECSE-4750) is usually one of the two largest senior courses in ECSE. He has been making his course material available on the Web since 1994.

Franklin believes that terrain cannot be modeled mathematically while sitting in an office and abstracting away everything that makes this domain unique. To study actual terrain, among other things, he has: climbed Kilimanjaro (Tanzania) to the summit (not stopping at Gilman's Pt) (1982), hiked the Haute Route 164km from Chamonix (France) to Zermatt (Switzerland) in 12 days (2008), kayaked on the Urubu River, a tributary of the Amazon north of Manaus (Brazil) while sleeping in hammocks in the jungle (2009), hiked the Grand Canyon (US) from South Rim to Colorado River and back in a day (2009), and hiked the US Northeast 111 (the 115 peaks above 4000' in the northeastern USA) (1975-2015).


Homepage: http://wrfranklin.org/, PDF resume, Web-formatted resume including links to papers, research details.