Helmut Pottmann is a professor of Applied Mathematics and Computational Science Program (AMCS) at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology and Principal Investigator of his research group. He is also affiliated to the Visual Computing Center (VCC). His research interests are in Applied Geometry and Visual Computing, in particular in Geometric Modeling, Geometry Processing, and most recently, in Geometric Computing for Architecture and Manufacturing. 

Education and Career

Professor Helmutt received Master Degree (MS) from Vienna University of Technology in 1982. He has a PhD from Vienna University of Technology, 1983. He was the Founding Director of the Geometric Modeling and Scientific Visualization Center at KAUST from April 2009 to September 2013. Professor Helmutt was the Director of the Center for Geometry and Computational Design, Vienna University of Technology from 2014-2018. From 1989 to 1992, he was a holding a visiting faculty position at TH Darmstadt, University of Kaiserslautern, and Purdue University. Professor Helmutt worked as a Professor of Mathematics (C3) at the University of Hamburg, Germany, from 1991-92, and from 1999-2005 he worked as an Adjunct Professor in Department of Mechanical Engineering at University of California, Davis. 

Areas of expertise and current scientific interests

Professor Pottmann's research interests are in applied geometry, classical geometry, discrete differential geometry, computational design and geometry processing with a focus on applications in architecture and manufacturing.

Career recognitions

Prof. Pottmann has been invited to numerous keynote presentations at international conferences, including SIAM Annual Meeting 2012, SIAM Conference on Geometric Design 1995, 2007; Foundations of Computational Mathematics 2014, 7th European Congress of Mathematics 2016 (public lecture), ACM Symposium on Computational Geometry 2010, ACM Conference on Solid and Physical Modeling 2012, Eurographics 2009, GAMM Annual Conference 2000. (SAMPLE)

Professional activities

Editorial Boards (active): Computer-Aided Design, Computational Visual Media, Graphical Models, Journal of Computational Design and Engineering, SIAM Journal on Applied Algebra and Geometry, Springer book series Geometry and Computing.
Editorial Boards (previous): Advances in Computational Mathematics, Computing, Computer-Aided Geometric Design, SIAM Journal on Imaging Sciences, IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics, The Visual Computer.

SIAM Activity Group on Geometric Design: Program Director (1996-98), Vice Chair (1999-2001), Center of Mathematics for Applications, Oslo: Director of the scientific board (2003-08). Max Planck Center for Visual Computing and Communications: member of the scientific advisory board.

Why geometric modeling?

Geometry is not only an important branch of mathematics, it is also a source of beauty and plays a role in many applications. I am particularly intrigued by the high aesthetics of shapes which result as solutions of geometric problems and by seeing geometry materialized through novel fabrication techniques. This materialization becomes most prominent in architecture. It motivated our research in Architectural Geometry, which had an impact both on the geometric theory and on the realization of complex geometry in contemporary architecture.

I am Co-founder of Evolute (www.evolute.at), a Vienna based company specialized in consulting and software development for fabrication of complex geometry, especially in architecture. Evolute has been involved in numerous prestigious architectural projects worldwide. Among the geometrically most remarkable projects are the Pavilions on the first platform of the Eiffel Tower, the Museum of Islamic Arts in the Louvre and the Yas Island Marina Hotel in Abu Dhabi.


After contributing to the initial building phase of KAUST as a center director, I had to move to Vienna for personal reasons. As soon as I could return to KAUST, I did so, because I enjoy my work at KAUST a lot more than at any other place. I like the strong focus on research and l highly appreciate the friendly and inspiring atmosphere in the Visual Computing Center. 

Areas of Expertise and Research Interests

  • Industrial Geometry
  • Architectural Geometry
  • Discrete Differential Geometry
  • Relations between Geometry, Numerical Analysis and Approximation Theory
  • Computer Aided Geometric Design, Geometric Modelling and Computer Vision
  • Applications of Geometry in Manufacturing
  • Kinematical Geometry and Robot Kinematics

Education Profile

  • PhD Vienna University of Technology, 1983
  • MS Vienna University of Technology, 1982


Awards and Distinctions

  • Fellow of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (2018)
  • Eurographics Outstanding Technical Contributions Award (2018)
  • Pierre Bezier Award of the Solid Modeling Association (2018)
  • John Gregory Award for outstanding contributions in geometric modeling (2008)
  • John von Neumann Visiting Professor, Department of Mathematics, TU Munich, Fall semester 2015/16
  • Gauss Lectureship of the German Mathematical Society (DMV), Munich, January 2017

Professional Memberships

On the editorial board of SIAM Journal on Applied Algebra and Geometry, Computer-aided Design, Graphical Models, Computational Visual Media, Journal of Computational Design and Engineering and the Springer book series Geometry and Computing


Supporting Structure for Freeform Surfaces in Buildings


Selected Publications

Tang, C., Bo, P., Wallner, J., & Pottmann, H. (2016). Interactive Design of Developable Surfaces. ACM Transactions on Graphics, 35(2), 1–12. doi:10.1145/2832906
Jiang, C., Tang, C., Vaxman, A., Wonka, P., & Pottmann, H. (2015). Polyhedral patterns. ACM Transactions on Graphics, 34(6), 1–12. doi:10.1145/2816795.2818077
Tang, C., Sun, X., Gomes, A., Wallner, J., & Pottmann, H. (2015). Form-finding with polyhedral meshes made simple. ACM SIGGRAPH 2015 Posters on - SIGGRAPH ’15. doi:10.1145/2787626.2787631
Pottmann, H., Eigensatz, M., Vaxman, A., & Wallner, J. (2015). Architectural geometry. Computers & Graphics, 47, 145–164. doi:10.1016/j.cag.2014.11.002
Kim, Y.-J., Elber, G., Bartoň, M., & Pottmann, H. (2015). Precise gouging-free tool orientations for 5-axis CNC machining. Computer-Aided Design, 58, 220–229. doi:10.1016/j.cad.2014.08.010
Tang, C., Sun, X., Gomes, A., Wallner, J., & Pottmann, H. (2014). Form-finding with polyhedral meshes made simple. ACM Transactions on Graphics, 33(4), 1–9. doi:10.1145/2601097.2601213