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From Sorcery to Science: Hollywood Physics as Computational Science
Computer Graphics applications require mathematical models and simulation software that captures the qualitative, characteristic behavior of a physical system, even at very coarse discretizations. Our research group develops such numerical tools by using ideas from discrete differential geometry and discrete geometric mechanics. We build a discrete picture from the ground up, mimicking the axioms, structures, and symmetries of the smooth setting. The result is a discrete (hence immediately computable) model of the system, and in particular one that preserves conservation laws. Over time, we have been learning that these computations can be useful not just for filmmaking, but also for developing consumer products, medical research, and basic physical understanding.