Diaspora Diaries: King George V Alumnus Jason Leigh is Making Waves
Participants: Jason Leigh
UIC / EVL
Hong Kong’s King George V School Alumni Community website posted an April 2011 article from the “South China Morning Post” about its illustrious alumnus Jason Leigh, now a professor of Computer Science and the director of the Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL) at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). King George V School is an English-speaking high school that Leigh attended in the late 70s and early 80s. And, where he was inspired to learn about computers.
The article, “Diaspora Diaries: King George V Alumnus Jason Leigh is Making Waves…,” was inspired by EVL’s avatar research, called Project Lifelike. While the article has a few factual errors about Leigh’s current research efforts, it accurately quotes him describing his teenage years, how he spent time at the local Atari store, and how he became intrigued with computers. Leigh says, “A computer club had sprung up and, even though there were no formal classes, I became really enamored with the technology. It was basically self-taught. I picked up every book I could find.”
Upon graduating, Leigh went on to apply to U.S. colleges, and while waiting for applications to arrive, he spent time in an Atari store where he discovered the American computer magazine “Analog Computing”. He sent the magazine a program he had written, called Turtle 1020, a programming language to draw pictures on the Atari 1020 printer / plotter. The magazine published his article and paid him $50 USD. He ended up majoring in Computer Science at University of Utah, got his Master’s at Wayne State University, and his PhD at UIC.
While the article mentions Leigh’s research in computer graphics, virtual reality and video game development, the title erroneously mentions “artificial intelligence.” Clearly this is one of Leigh’s interests, but for Project Lifelike, collaborators at University of Central Florida worked on an avatar’s intelligence while Leigh and his students focused on photo-realistic computer graphics imaging. The article also references work that Leigh did with General Motors to build virtual cars, but makes it sound current when it was actually done in the 90s and 00s.
Download the article “Diaspora Diaries” about Jason Leigh, King George V alumnus.
Download Leigh’s “Turtle 1020” article, Analog Computing, No. 35, October 1985, pp. 88-96.
Date: August 20, 2012
Document: Diaspora Diaries