Computer Scientist Lands University’s Eighth Patent

Posted: December 16, 2002 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Robin Herron

George Mason’s eighth patent was issued for a method of drawing a straight line in computer graphics, an invention by Jim Chen, associate professor in Computer Science.

Photo of Jim Chen

Jim Chen

Chen wrote his first paper on the invention in the spring of 1997, “A Jump on Visualization: The Bottom-up Approach,” which appeared in IEEE Computing in Science and Engineering. Shortly thereafter he applied for the patent.

In computer graphics, drawing a straight line is the most basic operation, and the ability to draw a good line quickly and efficiently is an extremely important factor in developing a robust graphical library. Chen’s Straight Line Draw technology is the hardware implementation for a method of drawing straight lines with antialiasing, which yields a smooth-looking outline. Furthermore, the technology is about thirteen times faster than the current standard.

“It is a great invention that improved the computer graphics field as a whole,” Chen says. He notes that some of the technical processes in the method are adopted in his new book, Guide to Graphics Software Tools, which was published in October by Springer-Verlag. “Drawing lines is only a limited function in graphics,” he says. “The major efficiency issue is drawing complex objects with many polygons. Through this research and method I find that we can significantly improve the efficiency of drawing 3-D objects and polygons as well.”

“We are not aware of any known inventions related to this advancement in computer graphics,” says Jennifer Murphy, director of Technology Transfer. “Graphics and computer hardware development firms can use this technology to introduce radically new improvements to the speed of drawing lines and polygons,” she points out.

Currently on study leave and serving as distinguished visiting professor at Hoseo University’s School of Computer Engineering in Korea, Chen continues to work with his students to materialize the method, and he plans to file a more comprehensive patent later. He acknowledges the help of Xusheng Wang and Jian Cui, who are Ph.D. candidates at George Mason; Yonggao Yang, a former student who is now an assistant professor at Prairie View A&M University; and other students who helped collect research data.

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