The more the merrier

08 December 2007

Professor Charles Merry & Bruce Merry

Two years ago Professor Charles Merry (geomatics) capped his daughter, Margaret, BSc (honours) in geology. On Wednesday, 12 December, he will cap her older brother, Bruce, who at just 25 will get his PhD in computer science.

This will be the third time Merry caps his son. This is also the third doctorate in the family. Bruce's mom, Corinne, got her PhD in physics from UCT in 1980.

In 2003 Bruce bagged two degrees from the science faculty after just three years of study. A computer science student, he got his BSc with majors in mathematics and computer science as well as a BSc (honours) in computer science.

Scratching your head?

The simple explanation is that Bruce had a head start. As a schoolboy he unofficially took Maths I and Computer Science I, making it possible to finish his BSc in a scant two years.

But a university rule prevented him from being awarded his degree after only 24 months. So he continued with honours in his third year and received two degrees at that year's graduation ceremony.

Bruce started a master's degree in 2004, upgrading this to a PhD in 2006 and expanding his research in computer graphics.

His thesis on character skinning is a "look under the hood" in an area of growing sophistication and complexity in visual effects, with a focus on realtime applications.

Character skinning defines how the visible surface of an animated character moves in response to the motion of the underlying skeleton.

Bruce's novel contribution is a new algorithm for defining this process, which generalises and improves the common Skeletal Subspace Deformation method.

Next year Bruce will leave academia to take up a job in industry in Cambridge.

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