Participant Testimonials

Feb 16 - Feb 21, 2014

One of the main benefit of this workshop is to mix people from different communities, working on a common subject. It allows to have a good overview of the state of the art on the subject while sharing some ideas, some problems, some solutions... I think the workshop will open new directions in my research, from the most fundamental aspect to the validations of the methods I have proposed to model the contact. I also think that it was a good opportunity to share our experience on different simulation platforms. We had the opportunity to show the results obtained with our open-source framework SOFA and discuss them with people that are involved with other platforms (siconos, chronos, ...), with different application focus. I think the idea of providing benchmarks for assessing the quality of these platforms is very important. It was PERFECT! (special thanks to the chef... the food was excellent!) Do not change anything!

Christian Duriez PhD
Shacra Team, INRIA Lille

This workshop is of utmost importance to support a small extremely cross disciplinary community such as ours. It allows us to exchange research experience and knowledge across diverse fields such as computer science, mathematics, physics and engineering. On a personal level I extracted important knowledge about how our research field is maturing and developing. An important observation is that many independent research groups are seeking a methodology for validation. Hence without this workshop such efforts may not have been unified. With this workshop everybody has joined efforts in collecting data for creating benchmarks -- an important step for our field.

Kenny Erleben Computer Science, University of Copenhagen

Thanks for letting us have this great workshop! It had never learned so much about contact mechanics in such a short amount of time. More importantly, mixing people from different academic communities (math, robotics, graphics) provided a unique opportunity to meet so many interesting people and discuss ideas and possible collaborations. This allowed me to start discussions about at least two exciting new collaborations. I sincerely hope that this will take place again.

Frédéric Faure Institut Fourier Grenoble (France)

I found it extremely informative and interesting and it gave me a number of new things to think about, and kick started a few new projects. Specifically: 1. Interaction with Jeff Trinkle and Ying Lu on using the PATH solver for nonlinear versions of the friction contact problem arising from real data. Ideas sparked about how to use MPEC in conjunction with these models. Clearly this was influenced by the talks given by Ferris and Lu at the meeting. 2. Interaction with Vincent Acary on an iterative solution technique for the friction cone problem. Motivated by talks by Acary, Pang and Anitescu. 3. Further interaction with Negrut and his students (at Wisconsin)! Ideas on how to collaborate to use conic solvers (interior point versions) on their data sets. 4. New thoughts related to the use of logic programming and complementarity. Thinking about ideas on how to formalize this, and when it would work well. Lots of other things might come from the meeting, but these are clearly things that are foremost on my mind after the talks and discussions at Banff.

Michael C. Ferris Computer Sciences, University of Wisconsin

The workshop was extremely helpful in understanding what are the state-of-art in computational contact mechanics, providing a forum for researchers from different background (Math, OR, ME, CS, Geo-Science, etc.) working on the similar problems to discuss and exchange ideas, and shared recent work. Wow! What a collection of brilliant minds with different perspectives working on similar problems in one place! CONGRATS to the organizers' excellent planning and organization! I've certainly met several new researchers from other disciplines, as well as those within my own community. I'm also looking for postdoc, though I did not find any suitable candidates at the workshop, I did spread the words. The new contacts I made should be very valuable in my future endeavors in expanding my current research projects into other related topics and ideas that I've in mind. I've found new energy and new directions in a relatively short time there. The workshop was absolutely fabulous and planted new seeds for future projects! THANKS! The local arrangement, rooms, and meals were excellent! This is a wonderful facility and I very much appreciate the opportunity to be able to take advantage of the workshop and the facility.

Ming Lin Parker Distinguished Professor
Computer Science, University of North Carolina

The BIRS workshop on computational contact mechanics was one of the best workshops that I've attended. I was able to network with the top researchers in this field and discover the state-of-the-art in terms of modeling contact. For example, studying the formation of rivers by modeling particles flowing in a fluid and speeding up the solution of the algorithms using advanced optimization techniques. BIRS created a relaxing and conducive atmosphere for learning and collaborating. I learned from, presented to, and conversed with THE top researchers in my field. Needless to say, I walked away from BIRS with an incredible list of contacts. The workshop provided an impetus for a larger collaboration effort across the field. This effort will eventually help standardize the methods of testing and validation for the entire discipline. The BIRS facility was amazing and the staff were absolutely wonderful.

Daniel Melanz Research Assistant
Mechanical Engineering, University of Wisconsin - Madison

The BIRS workshop on Contact Mechanics brought together researchers from a variety of fields including mathematics, robotics, computer graphics, and geology to discuss the state of the art in contact simulation and analysis, as well as to discuss open problems. In my robotics research, many of the most challenging problems are deeply tied to the difficulty of analyzing contact mechanics. This workshop brought me together with some of the best researchers in contact modeling, whose approaches have deep connections to my formal analysis of robotic stability. Not only did I make some invaluable contacts for future research, and my future job prospects as a current graduate student, but some of the discussions at the workshop have produced immediate results in my algorithm development. While the workshop finished just weeks ago, and I have not yet written any new papers, I have no doubt that some of these ideas will lead to future publications and research.

Michael Posa Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, MIT

This is my fifth Banff meeting (Muscles x 2 + non-holonomic mechanics + balance + contact =5). I am always happy to come back because: I like small meetings. The setting is lovely and inspiring. The accommodations are great (well, too great), e.g., Good vegan food, Nice rooms, Basketball, etc. The meeting logistics are well done: Good meeting rooms. Good support staff. Good lounge room for evening discussions. Good internet. About this meeting in particular. It introduced me to many people with whom I have overlapping interests but whose work I did not know. In particular, through the talks and evening discussions I have finally got a sense of the issues of concern to those who do large scale simulations with contact. I also learned about the capabilities of the packages and as a result of this meeting I am more or less committed to collaborations with two of the groups at this meeting. Because of the time for discussions at this meeting, both groups were able to describe their computation abilities well enough so I could get a sense if they would likely be of use for my lab. On the flip side, the meeting gave me an opportunity to share some of the more physical things that I think about with a community that can make use of those insights.

Andy Ruina professor
Mechanical engineering., Cornell University

The workshop has been fantastic. Having a focused theme, but with people from a variety of backgrounds (engineering, robotics, computer science, mathematics) has been especially valuable. I, myself, have taken away two ideas that have the potential to become publications. They will need continued development away from the workshop, but they would not have started without it. One of these involves a new collaboration for me. I already knew some of the participants, but many (actually most) were new to me or I knew only by reputation or papers. Some participants "prodded" intellectually, and have forced me to re-think some things I had taken for granted, or had not taken as seriously beforehand. I am going to be doing some calculations to see if my assumptions are as well-founded as I thought. Thanks for the workshop. It has been very invigorating.

David Stewart Professor
Mathematics, University of Iowa

I thoroughly enjoyed the workshop last week. It was one of the best meetings I have been to in recent memory, due to both the technical strength of the participants/material and the fantastic venue. It absolutely broadened my perspective by introducing aspects of the field that I had not been exposed to previously. Thank you for your support!

The workshop was amazingly successful. We got a number of email thank you notes like the one below: "Organizers,This is the best meeting I have ever attended. As a graduate student, I attended international conferences in which communication was largely stratified (professors mostly spoke with professors, and students with students). Due to the intimate size of the meeting, the shared meals and housing at BIRS, and the egalitarian attitudes of the participants; I felt much greater connection to the other participants. I would emphasize the importance of the meals and informal social gatherings, at which technical discussion continued. During this meeting, I was exposed to a number of open source physics solvers that I would like to investigate for connections with our open source robotics software packages (I compiled Chrono Engine, Sofa, and Siconos on my laptop this past week). I'm also looking forward to developing a set of benchmark contact problems in order to compare the different methods that we use."

Jeff Trinkle Professor
Computer Science, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

The workshop was fantastic. I was introduced to the people behind the work I know so well, as well as what they're currently working on. The talks and interactions I had during the week certainly have helped me in better understanding the ideas and concepts of my field, and I feel as though my own work benefited greatly from the insight and input of the other attendees. As a result of the workshop, I believe that we will as a group pursue a database of benchmark problems for multibody dynamics that will prove invaluable to the progress of our field.

Jedediyah Williams Computer Science, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute