Wm. Randolph Franklin


Personal Homepage
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (http://www.rpi.edu/)

W. Randolph Franklin is an Associate Professor in the Electrical, Computer, and Systems Engineering Dept, RPI, with a courtesy joint appointment in the Computer Science Dept. He served a rotation to the National Science Foundation from January 2000 to August 2002. At RPI, he is comanager with (G Nagy) of the Computational Geometry Lab. At NSF, he was Director of the Numeric, Symbolic, and Geometric Computation Program (later renamed to Graphics, Symbolic, and Geometric Computing (GSG), in the Directorate for Computer and Information Sciences and Engineering (CISE), Computer-Communications Research Division (C-CR). (In Oct 2003, C-CR disappeared in the CISE reorganization.) GSG supported research in computational geometry, computer graphics, numeric computing, mathematical optimization, symbolic computing, and automated theorem proving. It had 150 active awards. Frankin had additional responsibility for some panels and proposals in the Information Technology Research (ITR) and Integrative Graduate Education and Research Training (IGERT) programs. Franklin was one of the prime movers of the two Computational Algorithms and Representations for Geometric Objects (CARGO) (FY02, FY03) solicitations, which were joint with NSF/MPS/DMS and DARPA/DSO, and wrote part of the DARPA Defense Science Office's GeoSpatial Terrain Analysis and Representations (Geo*) Future Area of Interest. Franklin has held visiting positions in EECS at UC Berkeley, the US Army Topographic Engineering Center, Ft Belvoir, the Dipartimento di Informatica e Scienze dell'Informazione, Università degli Studi di Genova, Italy, the Dept. de Science Géodésique, University of Laval, Quebec City, Canada, the Division of Information Technology, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, Canberra, Australia, and the Institute of Systems Science, National University of Singapore. He also helped found 2 defunct hi-tech startups, Hudson Data Systems, and Attic Graphics, Inc. He is an incorporator and board member of the Institute for Infrastructure Asset Management. Franklin's degrees are from Toronto (BSc, Computer Science), and Harvard (AM & PhD, Mathematica Accomodata), where his advisor was Harry Lewis. His non-degree education includes Georgetown University's Governmental Affairs Institute's Congressional Operations Seminar. Franklin's awards include an NSF Presidential Young Investigator award, an RPI Early Career Award, and being a significant contributor to the National Electrical Engineering Department Heads Association (NEEDHA) Innovative Program Award to RPI's ECSE Dept. for undergrad computer engineering studio course development. His professional service includes several site visits on behalf of the Computer Science Accreditation Board, membership in the Union College Computer Engineering Program advisory committee, and the usual reviewing and panelizing. He has developed and/or taught everything from freshman computer engineering, sophomore logic design, and senior computer graphics, to graduate software engineering and computational geometry. The graphics course was, at times, altho not a required course, the largest senior course in ECSE. He has been putting his course material on the Web since 1994. Franklin's current research interests include computational cartography, computer graphics, computational geometry, and geographic information science, emphasizing small, simple, and fast data structures and algorithms, security and privacy, and computer engineering education. His current goal is that anything he implements should work for N=1,000,000,000. His 3D connected component program does a universe of over 1000×1000×1000 voxels easily. His program to find mass properties of the union of lots of polygons (currently, squares) can process 400M edges. This program demonstrates the functioning of several useful lower level operations, like edge intersection and point location. A big reason for testing algorithms on large examples is that it's fun. However, it's possible that people aren't generally running large examples now since most current implementations are much too slow, when they don't crash. Large examples are an excellent stress test of the whole system. Also, these techniques scale down; when large examples take minutes, small examples run too fast to measure. Franklin still gets occasional questions about PNPOLY, a subroutine he wrote in 1970 to test whether a polygon contains a point. Translated to C, PNPOLY has only eight lines of executable code. He has graduated 61 masters students, and 11 PhD students, six of whom are now on the faculties of other universities.

Publication Statistics

Publication period start
Publication period end
Number of co-authors

Number of publications with favourite co-authors

Productive Colleagues
Most productive colleagues in number of publications


Akman, Varol, Franklin, Wm. Randolph (1989): Representing objects as rays, or how to pile up an octree?. In Computers & Graphics, 13 (3) pp. 373-379. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/0097-8493(89)90088-5

Franklin, Wm. Randolph, Akman, Varol (1987): A Simple and Efficient Haloed Line Algorithm for Hidden Line Elimination. In Comput. Graph. Forum, 6 (2) pp. 103-109. http://diglib.eg.org/EG/CGF/volume6/issue2/v06i2pp103-109_abstract.html

Franklin, Wm. Randolph, Nichols, Margaret, Samaddar, Sumitro, Wu, Peter (1986): Experiences with using Prolog for geometry. In: Graphics Interface 86 May 26-30, 1986, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. pp. 26-31.

Franklin, Wm. Randolph, Akman, Varol (1985): Building an octree from a set of parallelepipeds. In: Graphics Interface 85 May 27-31, 1985, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. pp. 353-359.

Franklin, Wm. Randolph, Akman, Varol, Verrilli, Colin (1985): Voronoi diagrams with barriers and on polyhedra for minimal path planning. In The Visual Computer, 1 (2) pp. 133-150. http://

Franklin, Wm. Randolph (1983): Software aspects of business graphics. In Computers & Graphics, 7 (1) pp. 5-12. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/0097-8493(83)90040-7

Franklin, Wm. Randolph (1982): Efficient polyhedron intersection and union. In: Graphics Interface 82 May 17-21, 1982, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. pp. 73-80.

Franklin, Wm. Randolph (1982): On an Improved Algorithm for Decentralized Extrema Finding in Circular Configurations of P. In Communications of the ACM, 25 (5) pp. 336-337.

Wazzan, Ghaleb, Franklin, Wm. Randolph, Spillers, William R., Greenwood, Allan, Chu, Henry, Garrity, Thomas F. (1982): Simulation of buried power transmission systems: Some computer graphics options. In Computers & Graphics, 6 (1) pp. 7-14. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/0097-8493(82)90009-7

Franklin, Wm. Randolph (1981): 3--D geometric databases using hierarchies of inscribing boxes. In: Seventh Canadian Man-Computer Communications Conference June 10-12, 1981, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. pp. 173-180.