Brian A. Barsky

Professor of the Graduate School at the University of California, Berkeley
Professor Emeritus of Computer Science and Vision Science, at the University of California, Berkeley
Affiliate Professor Emeritus of Optometry, at the University of California, Berkeley
Member of the Joint Graduate Group in Bioengineering, between UC Berkeley and UC San Francisco

In the news ...

Scientific American selected vision correcting displays as one of 2014's ten "World Changing Ideas"

"Correcting for Optical Aberrations using Multilayer Displays", Proceedings of ACM SIGGRAPH Asia 2012, Singapore, 28 November - 1 December 2012, ACM Transaction on Graphics, Volume 31, Issue 6, November 2012, Article No. 185.

"Eyeglasses-free Display: Towards Correcting Visual Aberrations with Computational Light Field Displays", Proceedings of ACM SIGGRAPH 2014, Vancouver, 10-14 August 2014, ACM Transactions on Graphics (TOG), Volume 33, Issue 4, July 2014, Article No. 59.

SIGGRAPH ASIA 2012 paper                                                 SIGGRAPH 2014 paper

Download Papers

SIGGRAPH ASIA 2012 paper                                                 SIGGRAPH 2014 paper

Download Videos

SIGGRAPH ASIA 2012 video                                                 SIGGRAPH 2014 video

San Francisco Chronicle article:
UC class melds photography, protest

Debra Levi Holtz, Special to The Chronicle

Monday, December 27, 2010

From the UC Berkeley NewsCenter,

'Capturing the campus'

By Dan Mogulof, Public Affairs | 16 December 2010

Photo by Nicholas Chang from Brian Barsky's photography class
Photo by Nicholas Chang, a student in the class.

BERKELEY -- Call it a visual form of academic introspection. This semester, a new Freshman Seminar, "Photographing History in the Making," uses the campus itself as a source for, and subject of, scholarly inquiry.

"Berkeley is a fascinating university that often plays a leadership role in higher education," says the seminar's creator, computer-science professor Brian Barsky. "It makes sense that freshmen new to the campus be given the opportunity to study and learn about Berkeley as part of their formal education. And what better time to pursue this than a time when the university is in the throes of major changes."

During last fall's campus turmoil, Barsky, who harbors a deep passion for photography, began to view student shutdowns and union picket lines as suitable subjects for another photography seminar he was teaching at the time. The students' positive response confirmed his sense that examining "history in the making" through the camera's lens brought new relevance and meaning to the course.

"My intent is to provide a delicate balance of the study of photography with developing critical-thinking skills related to the unfolding controversies swirling around the university," Barsky says. "We discuss current events, exploring the underlying issues that drive them, while also developing photographic skills and learning about both the artistic and scientific aspects of photography. The class emphasizes developing awareness and more knowledge around current events, primarily on campus, but not just limited to such a local perspective."

Students enrolled in the seminar are expected to shoot photos on a weekly basis, participate in critiques and engage in discussions about university issues and how photographic documentation can convey and affect political change.

Freshman and sophomore seminars have long been a signature offering on the Berkeley campus. Designed as an alternative to the large lecture class, they allow small groups of students to engage in what the program's website describes as "the spirit of learning for its own sake." This year, there are close to 100 offerings, ranging from "Physics and Materials Science of Skateboarding" to "The Science, Technology, Policy, and Politics of California Air Pollution."

For many of the faculty involved, the seminars are an opportunity to explore unexpected topics that may not directly relate to the focus of their departments. Or, as Barsky puts it, "In some sense this reflects one of the aspects that makes Berkeley great: its tremendous breadth of fields of study, and its professors who refuse to be ‘pigeonholed' but instead embrace an enriched cross-disciplinary approach to their intellectual endeavors."

Click here to read the full story and to see a slide show presenting some of the students' work and, in their own words, descriptions of what the images are intended to convey and capture.

From the Daily Californian,

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Photography Seminar Zooms In on Current Events

Photo: Professor Brian Barsky takes a picture of a protest on October 7, 2010. He leads a 
seminar that introduces freshman students to both photography and current events.
Kevin Foote/Courtesy
Professor Brian Barsky takes a picture of a protest on October 7, 2010. He leads a seminar that introduces freshman students to both photography and current events.

Following a year filled with protests, marches and building occupations due to fee hikes and budget cuts in the 2009-10 academic year, an idea clicked for computer science professor Brian Barsky to introduce a freshman seminar that used a hands-on approach to learning about current events and renewed the activist spirit on campus.

Barsky had previously been teaching "The Art and Science of Photography" for about seven years through the freshman seminar program, which allows professors to teach a specific topic to a class of around 15 to 20 students. The original class focused on technical aspects of photography and what goes into an effective photograph as well as the history and artistic movements which affected the art.

However, his new class, "Photographing History in the Making" - which began last semester and starts up again this semester - included in its discussion the history of past protest movements on campus and current events, such as fee hikes and budget cuts on campus. Students in the seminar were given a subscription to The New York Times to stay on top of current events.

"Some of the objectives of this course is to learn about photojournalism and documentary photography as well as the role of photography both to show what is happening in an unbiased and neutral way and as a vehicle for activism," he said.

Barsky said that in a course based on current events, he is often "at the mercy" of the news in order to decide what events will be a big focus - in the fall he focused on the 2010 midterm election and the Oct. 7 protest.

Students in the seminar last semester took photographs of the campus every week that would be evaluated and discussed in class. On certain days, like the Oct. 7 protest, the class met beyond its regularly scheduled time to take photos.

Barsky said one of the goals of the course was to understand current events through a more hands-on approach, rather than simply lecturing students about current events.

"This is a new kind of laboratory. Instead of the chemistry lab, our campus is our lab," he said.

The course was meant in part to educate and present multiple sides of discussions that dominated much of the new students' first semester, according to Barsky.

"I wouldn't say it made me more liberal or more conservative," said freshman Nicholas Chang, an electrical engineering and computer science major who took the seminar last semester. "It led me to want to think about things more, when I read the news, to actually ponder what it's saying, how it affects me and how it affects other people."

Though Barsky is a computer science professor, he said that he has had a passion for photography for years. While he said this type of course is different from what he is used to teaching, he considers it part of his responsibility as an educator to teach students to be engaged in the civic process.

"As an international student, I enjoy this class especially because it offers me a chance to learn what 'democracy' means to America," said freshman Tianyu Guan, who took the class last semester, in an e-mail.

Alluding to the pictures from the Free Speech Movement in 1964 that his students studied in the course, Barsky speculated that photos taken in the class could one day serve other individuals as historical documents.

"Perhaps after the next 46 years have passed, students will be interested in looking at photographs taken way back in 2010," he said.


Victoria Pardini covers Berkeley communities. Contact her at

Click here to see my photographs of the occupation of Wheeler Hall at UC Berkeley 20 Nov. 2009

Click here to see my photographs of the Occupy Cal / Day of Action at Sproul Hall at UC Berkeley on 9 Nov. 2011

From the Daily Californian:
New class focuses on funding for athletics

By Jonathan Tam | Staff

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Click here for archive of CS39Q: Priorities Under Pressure: Critical Assessment of How the University's Core Mission is Affected by Intercollegiate Athletics (Fall 2011)

Vision Correcting Displays:

Some OPTICAL and BLUR papers

Prospective graduate students: you do not need to contact me. Please follow these links instead:
Prospective computer science graduate students, please click here.
Prospective bioengeering graduate students, please click here.
Prospective vision science graduate students, please click here.
Archived news ...

Engineering News article, 6 Oct. 2006

New York Times article, For an Irregular Lens, an Optical Blueprint By MARC WEINGARTEN, 12 Sept. 2002

WIS TV NBC Channel 10 report, 21 Jan. 2003   Mirror version.   Original website.

Daily Californian article, 23 Oct. 2002

College of Engineering Lab Notes, Nov. 2002

* Tied for the record highest ever HKN Teaching Effectiveness rating of any CS Lower Division instructor, Fall 2006


. Berkeley Information




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USTL mail

E-mail: barsky at berkeley dot edu
Telephone: (510) 642-9838 [ (510) OH BYTE 8 ]
Fax: (510) 642-5775
Office: 785 Soda Hall

Official mailing address:
University of California, Berkeley
EECS Computer Science Division
387 Soda Hall # 1776
Berkeley CA 94720-1776

Click for Berkeley, California Forecast Lattitude: 3737' North
Longitude: 12222' West

Photo Gallery

November 2002 digital video frame
October 2002 digital color snapshot
Capturing Shack-Hartmann data of my eye Capturing Shack-Hartmann data of my eye Capturing Shack-Hartmann data of my eye
Candid photo during CS 184 lecture
November 2000 digital color snapshot
September 2000 low-res digital color snapshot
August 2000 low-res digital color snapshot
November 1999 black and white portraits
Smiling color snapshots
Hair morph (Quicktime version)
Hair morph (animated gif version)
Photograph of being awarded Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry
High resolution portrait photo
Photo with visualizations for corneal topography
Photo from New York Times article

Other Information (click anywhere)

Some of my photographs

Artwork done by Pierre Bézier using Bézier curves

Our SIGGRAPH '95 T-shirt was a hit

Car Talk's Tom Magliozzi's "New Theory of Learning"

SIGGRAPH '98 "Fresh Feature" on Modeling

Old CS Faculty Brochure homepage

Old CS Faculty Brochure homepage

These images should not be copied to any form of storage or output device without the permission of the copyright holder.
All photos Copyright ©1994-2017 Brian A. Barsky, unless otherwise noted.
Pictures should not be used without permission.