This page is aimed at elucidating the admission and application process for prospective graduate students in the Graphics, Imaging, and Games Lab at Carleton University. The information provided here is unofficial, and it pertains solely to this lab; other labs and supervisors have different processes and priorities.
If you have specific questions pertaining to graduate admissions that are not addressed here, feel free to write to us directly: David Mould, mould at scs dot carleton dot ca, and Oliver van Kaick, oliver.vankaick at carleton dot ca.
The Graphics, Imaging, and Games Lab is part of the School of Computer Science at Carleton University.
The SCS site has lots of general information about the different computer science graduate programs:
We are primarily looking for students with a combination of mathematical and coding skills, usually acquired in an undergraduate degree in computer science or computer engineering. A specialized background in computer graphics or image processing is welcome but not necessary; the needed disciplinary knowledge can be acquired during the degree program as long as there is a strong foundation to build on. Students with a background in a discipline other than computer science or computer engineering may be required to do a qualifying year before being formally admitted; if you are such a student, we hope you will not let that deter you from applying, since some of our best students have non-CS backgrounds such as physics or pure mathematics.
A grade point average of A- or equivalent (in many systems, an 80% average) is recommended. Other information, such as GRE, TOEFL, or IELTS scores is useful in our decision making; TOEFL or equivalent is required for all applicants who have a first language other than English.
Broadly speaking, the lab works on problems of algorithmic content creation and on the analysis of shapes.
On one front, we make tools and programs to create and to assist people in creating intricate artifacts, which might be images, geometric models, stories, or other structures. On another front, we develop algorithms and tools for processing and analyzing geometric datasets such as triangle meshes and point clouds. Not all our work can be characterized this way, but that description captures the majority of the activities in the lab.
Particular examples of research topics are the following:
Procedural modeling and texturing. Designing techniques that can create geometric models of trees, mountains, and more with minimal user input. I am particularly interested in highly complex, disordered structures such as rough stone.
Image stylization. Making algorithms for modifying photographs so that the output images no longer look photographic, but instead look like images from an artistic medium, such as oil paint, stained glass, or pen and ink. We build on and extend image processing and signal processing algorithms. This work is a particular strand within the larger domain of non-photorealistic rendering.
Game mechanics and interaction techniques. Fostering innovation in game design: how can we create game logic and player interaction to produce new kinds of player experiences? Work on this topic might involve designing educational games, since that is an area where game mechanics are usually quite impoverished.
Nonlinear stories. Creating systems for representing, authoring, and improvising large nonlinear stories such as those found in large open-world role-playing games. Computer games tend to have linear main storylines with optional, unrelated quests; our goal is to break free of that mould.
Creativity enhancement. Building software tools that can improve human creativity, in domains including fiction writing and music composition. Work in this area can be highly speculative and it is good to combine work on creativity enhancement with a project in another area so that the focus can shift if necessary.
Shape analysis and geometry processing. Developing techniques for analyzing and processing geometric datasets, including topics such as data-driven techniques for segmenting and understanding the structure of shapes, descriptors and algorithms for finding correspondences between shapes and computing shape similarity, and techniques to facilitate modeling of 3D shapes and exploration of shape repositories.
Admission Process and Timeline
We generally accept 1-2 new students every September. Most new admissions are for the Master of Computer Science program; direct admission to the PhD program is unusual. We do not recommend starting a graduate program in January and we only pay attention to the September application cycle; applications for September admission are due by the end of the preceding February. Admission decisions are made on a competitive basis depending on the applications received. We cannot assess individual applications without comparing them to the others, so sending us your CV directly is unhelpful; if you are interested in the lab, mention one of our names and research areas in your application and we will be sure to see it. You can find out more about the application process here:
Use your application letter to describe your interests. Be as specific as possible; interest in "the whole big world of computing" comes across as unfocused and naive. We will be much more impressed with an applicant who mentions a particular problem or objective of interest than one who seems uncertain. Explain how your background is useful for the stated problem domain. Of course, you might not have a specific problem in mind, but probably you have particular interests at a lower level of granularity than "computer graphics": list them.
An offer of admission will include a funding package of some kind. For domestic students, this will include a TAship, an RAship, and potentially a scholarship in addition. If you are an international student, you will receive at minimum an RAship, but be warned that because of the high tuition, it will likely not be sufficient to cover your expenses during your studies. If you do receive an offer, you will have to look carefully at the details before making a decision about whether to come.
More about GIGL
If you are reading this at gigl.scs.carleton.ca, you have found our group's website. There is a lot of information here about various aspects of the lab, such as our research interests, our publications, and our current membership. We particularly recommend the "masterpieces" image gallery, which contains some of the most interesting images created by lab members.