Prof. Kavita Bala
B. Tech., 1992, Computer Science and Engineering

Prof. Kavita Bala is the Dean of Computer and Information Science (CIS) and Professor of Computer Science, Ann S. Bowers College of Computing and Information Science, Cornell University. Prof. Bala obtained her B. Tech. degree in Computer Science and Engineering from IIT Bombay in 1992 and SM (Master of Science) and Ph.D. degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Prof. Bala was a postdoctoral researcher at the Program of Computer Graphics before joining Cornell Computer Science as an Assistant Professor. She served as the Chair of the Cornell CS department before taking her current position as Dean of the Ann S. Bowers College of Computing and Information Science at Cornell University. Prof. Bala has served as Technical Papers Chair of SIGGRAPH Asia 2011, and as the Editor-in-Chief of Transactions on Graphics from 2015 to 2018. She also served as Associate Editor for Transactions on Graphics (TOG), Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics (TVCG) and Computer Graphics Forum (CGF). Prof. Bala has co-authored the graduate-level textbook “Advanced Global Illumination” (A K Peters publisher, second edition). She co-chaired the international conference on Computational Photography (2021), Indian Conference on Computer Vision, Computer Graphics and Image Processing (2012), the International Pacific Graphics Conference (2010) and the Eurographics Symposium on Rendering (2005). Prof. Bala serves on SIGGRAPH’s Papers Advisory Group (PAG) and has also served on the Papers Advisory Board for SIGGRAPH and SIGGRAPH Asia. She has been awarded the ‘Computer Graphics Achievement Award’ for her fundamental contributions to physically-based and scalable rendering, material modeling, perception for graphics, and visual recognition by ACM SIGGRAPH in 2020. Her early research focused on realistic, physically-based rendering. It includes seminal work on scalable rendering, notably the development of Lightcuts and other approximate illumination algorithms, as well as deep contributions to volumetric and procedural modeling of textiles. She also co-authored the book Advanced Global Illumination, which has become a classic text in the field. A related topic where her work has been influential is the role of perception in graphics, including her impactful 2007 SIGGRAPH paper on visual equivalence, among many other works. Prof. Bala’s work is on recognition of materials, styles and other object attributes in images. Her work on intrinsic images and material recognition using crowd-sourced training data has been influential. She also did pioneering work on style recognition using deep learning. This technology powered GrokStyle, a successful visual search startup that Prof. Bala co-founded. She has also done notable work on worldwide analysis of fashion.

Prof. Bala is a recipient of ACM Fellow (2019), SIGGRAPH Computer Graphics Achievement Award (2020) and SIGGRAPH Academy (2020).

Special Memories

“My four years at IIT Bombay laid the foundation of my intellectual development, and set me up for the rest of my career. I have so many fond memories of working with my CS batchmates in the lab day-and-night to do our programming projects; making lifelong friends among my CS batchmates (I was the only woman in my CS batch), and among my H-10 hostel-mates; going to the lake in the evenings; hanging out in our hostel H-10 mess with friends and sharing our experiences across all our different disciplines and years; getting involved in organizing Mood Indigo, and lining up spectacular talent to perform…. and so many more memories”.