Eurographics Honorary Fellowship
„Wisdom. Let us attend. Words of introduction, but not words one would normally expect a chairman to utter when calling upon Bob Hopgood to speak at a meeting. Not that Bob would normally be waiting for an invitation!
In November 2005 Bob Hopgood attained a significant age. And with age, so the saying goes, comes wisdom. Yet wisdom is a characteristic that Bob has had throughout his distinguished professional career, and it continues in retirement. Bob was by training a mathematician, starting his professional career at the Atomic Energy Research Establishment at Harwell. There he worked on theoretical physics calculations, the evaluation of integrals, of the kind that took six months or more to complete by hand. So perhaps it was not surprising that Bob saw potential in the computer to remove at least some of the drudgery of the task and some of the many potential sources of error. Nowadays this would be symbolic algebra of a kind, but at the time it was the kind of thing a bright young man did to make progress. From those first beginnings, Bob's potential was clearly recognised, and he was soon engaged in the new art of compiler writing; a line of work that led eventually to the publication of his lectures on the subject in the monograph „Compiling Techniques (1969) an early classic in the field. He spent a sabbatical year in the USA at Carnegie Institute of Technology (which became Carnegie Mellon University in 1967) from September 1966 to September 1967 where he implemented a machine-independent version of the Brooker-Morris Compiler-Compiler and further developed his interest in translator writing systems. Whilst at CIT Bob shared an office with Alan Bond and Tom Calvert; all three were involved in interactive graphics on the Bendix G21 machine.
From there Bob continued to develop the field of computer graphics and computer animation in the UK and built up a highly talented group at the Atlas Computer Laboratory. One of Bob's hobbies in retirement is to document the history of the Atlas Computer Laboratory, see the Chilton Computing web site http://www.chilton-computing.org.uk/ .
In the early 1970s Bob was a participant, along with many others who were to become famous in the field of computer graphics (including one José Encarnação), at the first of two workshops to be held at a rather fine chateau in the Loire valley, Domaine de Seillac. Hopgood's paper was entitled „Is a graphics standard possible?, Encarnação's (with G. Nees) „Recommendations on methodology in computer graphics. From the opening section „Not even the basic primitive operations such as 'draw a line' are well defined. . The first attempt at a graphics standard should not expect to achieve very much. Even an agreement on what a line is and what it should be called would be an achievement. The paper went on to explore in detail just how different the concept of a line was in graphics packages of the time; his own included. There is something characteristic of Bob in this story; his ability to look at something that is a seemingly obvious concept such as a line, then to open up and explore the concept until you are brought to the realisation that it is anything but simple and anything but well-defined. Then he would try to put in place appropriate concepts that were well defined and provided a firm and sure foundation. Such is the wisdom of the man.
From Seillac grew Bob's commitment to the development of graphics standards, a huge intellectual, political and literary effort. Many of the words in the early drafts of standards documents and supporting position papers flowed from his pen. The standards movement in Europe, led by people such as Encarnação, Hopgood, Kansy, and the late Enderle and Schönhut, was for many of the people involved in that activity a precursor to cooperation in wider endeavours at the European level, including formal projects within the Esprit programme, and of course in setting the nascent Eurographics Association on the road to what it has become today.
Bob was highly influential in the early days of Eurographics; he could always be relied upon to liven up a meeting with his incisive views and style of argumentation. He was prolific in his output of minutes, letters and position papers. Amongst his colleagues at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory the „Hopgood weekend became a demanding measure of productivity. What could be achieved in a Hopgood weekend was almost boundless. Bob was one of the two founding Vice Chairmen of Eurographics (Encarnação was the Chairman, Giorgio Valle was the second Vice Chairman), and soon he became a key player in the Conference Monitoring Board, the Structural Working Party, the Professional Board, the UK Chapter, etc etc. He was also well-known in the early days of the conference for being willing to step in and present the papers of authors who were unable, usually for visa reasons, to attend in person to present their work. He took great care over this task, and could always find some really interesting angle to the work. Through these roles and other UK-specific roles he inspired a whole generation of graphics teachers and researchers in the UK.
Bob became a senior manager within Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, leading the computing division in various guises and ending his career there as an Associate Director. But despite holding high office of this kind, he always kept his feet on the ground technically. Whenever a new machine was acquired, it was never long before a port of either the Treemeta or the Meta II translator writing system would appear. He was instrumental in setting up a web presence for his department at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, and saw to it that the Laboratory became a member of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). Bob's talents were recognised in that domain too and as he drew near to normal retiring age he became Head of Offices for W3C.
Bob had for many years held a part-time Professorial appointment at Brunel University where he taught computer graphics. As he attained retirement age he relinquished this position and took a part-time post at Oxford Brookes University, where he was instrumental in setting up a new MSc course in Web Technologies in 2001. Bob continues to be a key teacher on this course and devotes boundless energy to developing teaching materials of the highest quality, using, of course, web graphics technology (Scalable Vector Graphics), and, perhaps unsurprisingly given his deep-rooted interests in translator writing systems, XSLT.
Having withdrawn from a direct leadership role in Eurographics, Bob applied his acquired wisdom in another organisational domain, the International World Wide Web Conference Committee (IW3C2), which is responsible for the WWW conference series. Again, never one to miss an opportunity to promote new technology, Bob has developed a sequence of animations of the conference logos, which is shown at the start and end of each conference; his son Paul contributing the music. The technology SVG of course! The implementation uses, amongst other things, a 3D graphics library based on some of the animation systems Bob worked on nearly 40 years ago, but this time implemented in XSLT.
In summary, to quote a colleague, „I think his humility, approachability and willingness to help others are a hallmark of a truly great individual.
Wisdom: The ability to discern or judge what is true, right, or lasting; insight. (The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition.) A quality that Bob has in abundance.
For his contributions to computer graphics, to education, and to the founding, shaping and continuing development of the Eurographics Assocation, the Executive Committee bestow upon Professor F.R.A. Hopgood, in this his 71st year, an Honorary Fellowship of the Association. Long may his wisdom continue to enrich our lives and our profession.
Wisdom. Let us attend.