Ron Goldman’s career took a detour that led him to teaching. The professor of computer science is a mathematician who earned his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in 1973 from Johns Hopkins University.
“All my degrees are in mathematics. It was hard to make a career as a visiting professor,” he said. “I learned about computer science in the industry. It was a detour because I couldn’t get a job. Computer science was a new field. When I was an undergraduate student, CS wasn’t its own department,” Goldman said.
For his first ten years in the industry, Goldman’s job required him to solve problems in computer graphics. His projects involved geometric modeling and computer aided design. Goldman worked at Manufacturing Data Systems Inc. where he helped implement one of the first industrial solid modeling systems.
He spent some time as a senior design engineer at Ford Motor Company. His job was to enhance the capabilities of corporate graphics and computer-aided design software. From Ford he moved on to Control Data Corporation, where he was a principal consultant for the development group. They focused on computer-aided design and manufacture. Goldman’s responsibilities included database design, algorithms, education, acquisitions and research.
Goldman said his heart has always been in academics. He became an associate professor of computer science at the University of Waterloo in 1987. Three years later, he came to Rice. Goldman describes teaching as joyous.
“If you want to learn a subject well, teach it. It’s a joy to teach students that are smart and understand the subject you’re teaching,” he said.
Goldman said writing is a way of explaining concepts in a concise and easy manner. He wrote his first book 25 years ago. He is working on his seventh book.
“I can’t keep still,” he said as he proceeded to list some of his areas of research.
“Computer graphics, geometric modeling, algorithmicalgebraic geometry, applications of Clifford algebra, subdivision, splines and others,” Goldman said.
The tentative title for his new book is “Dual Quaternions,” which is a follow up to his 2010 book “Rethinking Quaternions: Theory and Computation, Synthesis Lectures on Computer Graphics and Animation.”
“If you like quaternions, you will love dual quaternions,” he said. “I don’t think there is one place where you can find a comprehensive view on dual quaternions so I thought I’d do that for the community. I explain it as easily as I can and I hope it will be of service to the community,” he said.
Juan Du, a P.h.D. student at Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, has been working with Goldman as her advisor and co-author.
"As a mathematician, professor Goldman tries his best to make math simple and easy to understand for people in many areas of computational science and engineering, including computer graphics, computer vision, classical mechanics and robotics,” she said.
“At many stages in the course of writing paper on dual quaternions, I benefited greatly from many fruitful discussions. Professor Goldman very responsible to his audience. We have over one hundred versions of the book manuscript to make it better and better,” Du said.
Goldman describes writing as an adventure.
“All my books are supposed to be a service to the community. I hope people read the books and learn something from them. What else can I hope?”
Cintia Listenbee, Communications and Marketing Specialist in Computer Science