Biographical Information

Professor of Mathematics at Institute of Science and Technology Austria 2009-present
Arts and Sciences Professor of Computer Science and Professor of Mathematics at Duke Univ. 1999-2012
Founder, Director, and Principal of Raindrop Geomagic 1996-2013
Assistant, Associate, Full Professor in Computer Science at the Univ. Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 1985-1999
Assistant Professor in Information Processing at the Graz University of Technology 1981-1985

I always loved mathematics and in particular geometry and topology. My next favorite subject is philosophy. I am still curious why we are here. I have no illusions that we will ever know, but at least I would like to understand what we are all doing here. Perhaps the evolution of morality as a means to forge social groups, is a way to get closer to an answer.

My research evolved from algorithms and data structures to computational geometry and computational topology. It might sometimes not be obvious, but I use applications to determine the direction of my research, keeping in mind that the most applicable of all is a good theory. A recent interview touches upon this issue: AATRN interview.

I was born and grew up in Austria. I visited the United States in 1984 and made an overnight decision to move there, possibly for a few years. I accepted the offer from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and stayed there until 1999, when I moved to Duke University. In 2009, I moved to my current position at IST Austria.

My spare time interests include listening to music, and reading books in mathematics, philosophy, politics, biology, neurobiology, and on rare occasons a novel.

I co-founded a company in April 1996. This turned out to be more demanding than I believed although I was warned. The name simplified from Raindrop Geomagic to Geomagic, and in 2013, it was bought by 3D Systems, which is a 3D printing company.
I decided to join the new Institute of Science and Technology in Austria, near Vienna, starting August 2009. This promises to be challenging and invigorating. IST Austria is an ambitious acadamic start-up near Vienna. Under the micro-management of our first president, the institute grew to about 70 research groups in computer science, mathematics, biology, neuroscience, physics, chemistry, earth science, and astronomy. Since January 2023, we have a new president, and things are lightening up.

Research and Funded Projects

I currently work with visitors: Janos Pach; with post-doctoral fellows: Ranita Biswas, Farid Karimipour, Hana Kourimska, Morteza Saghafian, Nicolo Zava; and with doctoral students: Sebastiano Cultrera, Ondrej Draganov, Christopher Fillmore, Teresa Heiss, and Elizabeth Stephenson.

In 2016, we joined the Sonderforschungsbereich on discretization in geometry and dynamics, which is funded in Germany by the DFG and in Austria by the FWF. The project got extended in 2020 and then again to 2024. 2018 was a good year for me. I started a project on alpha shape theory extended funded by the ERC, and I received the Wittgenstein Prize, awarded by the FWF. In 2019, I started an Austrian-Slovenian cooperation project with Ziga Virk on algebraic footprints of geometric features in homology, which is funded by the FWF.

From Fall 2023 to Summer 2024, I will spend my sabbatical working with Yasuaki Hiraoka and his group at the Kyoto University Institute for Advanced Study.

Publications and Software

I published three books in the general area of computational geometry and topology:
  • H. Edelsbrunner and J. Harer. Computational Topology. An Introduction. Amer. Math. Soc., Providence, Rhode Island, 2010. link
  • H. Edelsbrunner. Geometry and Topology for Mesh Generation. Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge, England, 2001. link
  • H. Edelsbrunner. Algorithms in Combinatorial Geometry. Springer-Verlag, Heidelberg, Germany, 1987. link
A complete list of my publications is given in reverse chronological order. The Alpha Shapes software is designed to analyze point data in three dimensions. It specializes on molecular conformations, where a molecule is given as a set of atoms and each atom is a sphere given by its center (a point) and radius. For surface reconstruction I recommend Geomagic Wrap instead. I used that software to create the 180 wrapped tubes, which you can download in .stl format and print if you have a layered technology machine. Even if you have better things to do, visit a most baffling development within a Russian-Austrian collaboration: Hexasphere.

Contact Information

Home Page:
Phone: +43 (2243) 9000-3301
Fax: +43 (2243) 9000-2007
Surface mail:

   Herbert Edelsbrunner
   Am Campus 1
   IST Austria
   3400 Klosterneuburg

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