Pat Hanrahan

Patrick M. Hanrahan (born 1955) is a computer graphics researcher, the Canon USA Professor of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering in the Computer Graphics Laboratory at Stanford University. His research focuses on rendering algorithms, graphics processing units, as well as scientific illustration and visualization.[1]

Education and academic work

Hanrahan grew up in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and received a Ph.D. in biophysics from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1985.[2][3] In the 1980s, he worked at the New York Institute of Technology Computer Graphics Laboratory and Digital Equipment Corporation.


As a founding employee at Pixar Animation Studios from 1986 to 1989, Hanrahan was part of the design of the RenderMan Interface Specification and the RenderMan Shading Language.[4][5] He was credited in Pixar productions, including The Magic Egg (1984), Tin Toy (1988) and Toy Story (1995).[6]

In 1989, Hanrahan joined the faculty of Princeton University. In 1995, he moved to Stanford University. In 2003, Hanrahan co-founded Tableau Software[7] and remains its chief scientist.[8][9] In February 2005, Stanford University was named the first regional visualization and analytics center for the United States Department of Homeland Security, focused on problems in information visualization and visual analytics.[10][11] In 2011, Intel Research announced funding for a center for visual computing, co-led by Hanrahan and Jim Hurley of Intel.[12]


Hanrahan received three Academy Awards for his work in rendering and computer graphics research. In 1993, Hanrahan and other Pixar founding employees were awarded a scientific and engineering award for RenderMan.[6] In 2004 he shared a technical achievement award with Stephen R. Marschner and Henrik Wann Jensen, for research in simulating subsurface scattering of light in translucent materials.[13] In 2014, he shared a technical achievement award with Matt Pharr and Greg Humphreys, for their formalization and reference implementation of the concepts behind physically based rendering, as shared in their book Physically Based Rendering.[14]

Hanrahan received the 2006 Career Award for Visualization Research from the IEEE Visualization Conference, the 2003 SIGGRAPH Steven A. Coons Award for Outstanding Creative Contributions to Computer Graphics, for "leadership in rendering algorithms, graphics architectures and systems, and new visualization methods for computer graphics", and the 1993 SIGGRAPH Computer Graphics Achievement Award.

He became a member of the National Academy of Engineering in 1999,[15] a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2007 and of the Association for Computing Machinery in 2008, and received three university teaching awards at Stanford.[16]


  1. "A Conversation with Kurt Akeley and Pat Hanrahan". ACM Queue. 6 (2). April 28, 2008.
  2. Patrick M. Hanrahan (July 26, 1982). Creating volume models from edge-vertex graphs. SIGGRAPH '82: Proceedings of the 9th Annual Conference on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques. ACM. pp. 77–84. doi:10.1145/800064.801265. ISBN 978-0897910767.
  3. Drake Martinet (February 26, 2010). "Almost Famous: Pat Hanrahan of Tableau". All Things Digital. Retrieved November 23, 2016.
  4. Saty Raghavachary (July 30, 2006). A brief introduction to RenderMan. SIGGRAPH 2006 Courses. ACM. p. 2. doi:10.1145/1185657.1185817. ISBN 978-1595933645.
  5. Pat Hanrahan; Jim Lawson (August 4, 1990). "A language for shading and lighting calculations". SIGGRAPH 1990: Proceedings of the 17th Annual Conference on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques. 24 (4): 289–298. CiteSeerX doi:10.1145/97880.97911.
  6. Pat Hanrahan on IMDb
  7. Nieva, Richard (2011-11-05). "How Tableau Software makes business data beautiful". Retrieved 2019-12-07.
  9. "Form D: Notice of Sale of Securities" (PDF). SEC. February 7, 2003. Retrieved November 23, 2016.
  10. "Stanford selected as first regional center for DHS' national visual analytics work". Press release. February 7, 2005. Archived from the original on April 7, 2006. Retrieved November 23, 2016.
  11. "Charlotte Visualization Center celebrates opening with Visionary Symposium".
  12. "New Intel Center Driving the Future of Visual Computing". Press release. Intel. May 31, 2011. Retrieved November 23, 2016.
  13. Henrik Wann Jensen, Stephen R. Marschner, Marc Levoy and Pat Hanrahan (2001). A practical model for subsurface light transport. SIGGRAPH 2001 Proceedings of the 28th Annual Conference on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques. pp. 511–518. CiteSeerX doi:10.1145/383259.383319. ISBN 978-1581133745.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  14. "Technical Achievements To Be Honored With 2014 Academy Awards". Press release. January 8, 2014. Archived from the original on January 11, 2014. Retrieved November 23, 2016.
  15. "Dr. Patrick M. Hanrahan". Member Directory. National Academy of Engineering. Retrieved November 23, 2016.
  16. "Stanford scholars elected to American arts, sciences academy". Stanford Report. May 4, 2007. Retrieved November 23, 2016.
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