KAUST's Prof. Wolfgang Heidrich is a Professor of Computer Science and Electrical & Computer Engineering. His work is on Computational Imaging and Displays. This is an area of scientific research in which researchers are attempting to push the boundaries of photography with the aid of computers and software. Professor Heidrich is a member of the KAUST Visual Computing Center, and served as its director for 8 years between 2014 and 2021.

Education and early career

Professor Heidrich received his diploma in Computer Science (CS) from University of Erlangen in 1995. In 1996, he received M.Math from the University of Waterloo. He also holds a ​​​​Ph.D. from the University of Erlangen since 1999.

Area of expertise and current scientific interests

Professor Heidrich's core research interests are in computational imaging and display, an emerging research area within visual computing, which combines methods from computer graphics, machine vision, imaging, inverse methods, optics, and perception to develop new sensing and display technologies. Computational imaging is the hardware-software co-design of imaging devices, which aims to optically encode information about the real world in such a way that it can be captured by image sensors. The resulting images represent detailed information such as scene geometry, motion of solids and liquids, multi-spectral information, or high contrast (high dynamic range), which can then be computationally decoded using inverse methods, machine learning, and numerical optimization.

Career recognitions

In 2014, Professor Heidrich was the recipient of a Humboldt Research Award. The award was conferred to Heidrich in recognition of the significant impact his research had on computational imaging. Professor Heidrich is a Fellow of IEEE and Eurographics.

Why computational imaging?

I've always been interested in computation and what I like about computational imaging and display is that you can combine the computational aspect with something else that is very visual. You can see the immediate feedback in terms of a better image quality. You do need a lot of theory and math and abstract skills but the output is not abstract at all, it is the image itself.


I have been here since February 2014. This place is such a vast, fast-moving and growing place that for the short nine months I've been here I feel like I have been here for a lot longer. There are two standout reasons I chose to come to KAUST. The first one being that I had a full professor tenured appointment at the University of British Columbia and I had done that for a couple of years, so I was looking for some new challenges. Becoming the center director here came at the right time and it was a nice fit for me.

The second reason was the people here and the research opportunities. In terms of facilities alone, KAUST is really the best place that I've seen. I mean honestly, the research infrastructure here is phenomenal. I don't know any other university that comes close. What I like most about KAUST is that you have so many facilities and labs that are accessible to everybody, even to people you think might not need them. In fact, that's what happened me with the nanofabrication lab. I never really considered myself as someone who needs a nanofabrication lab, but then you come here and see what is possible, the opportunities for training that my students and postdocs can receive to build custom diffraction grading's for some optics projects, and you cannot help but avail yourself of the facilities at hand. When you see what is here at KAUST there is a massive scope for personal development, what were ideas before I have been actually able to realize them here at KAUST that was not possible in other places where I have worked.

Awards and Distinctions

  • 2023: ACM SIGGRAPH Computer Graphics Achievement Award
  • 2023: ACM SIGGRAPH Test-of-Time Award
  • 2021: IEEE Fellow
  • 2014: Humboldt Research Award

Education Profile

  • ​​​​Ph.D., University of Erlangen, 1999
  • M.Math, University of Waterloo, 1996
  • Diploma in Computer Science, University of Erlangen, 1995