Biographical Information

Professor at Institute of Science and Technology Austria 2009-present
Arts and Sciences Professor of Computer Science and Professor of Mathematics at Duke Univ. 1999-2012
Founder, Director, Principal Raindrop Geomagic 1996-2013
Assistant, Associate, Full Professor in Computer Science at the Univ. Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 1985-1999
Assistant Professor in Information Processing at the Graz University of Technology 1981-1985

I always loved mathematics and in particular geometry and topology. My next favorite subject is philosophy. I am still curious why we are here. I have no illusions that we will ever know, but at least I would like to understand what we are all doing here.

My research evolved from algorithms and data structures to computational geometry and computational topology. It might sometimes not be obvious, but I use applications to determine the direction of my research, keeping in mind that the most applicable of all is a good theory.

I was born and grew up in Austria. I visited the United States in 1985 and made an overnight decision to leave Austria and come to the US, possibly for a few years. With no time left for planning I accepted the offer from the University of Illinois. I have stayed there until 1999 when I moved to Duke University. In 2009, I moved to my current position at IST Austria.

My spare time interests include listening to music, and reading books in mathematics, philosophy, politics, biology, neurobiology, and on rare occasons a novel.

I co-founded a company in April 1996. This turns out to be more demanding than I believed although I was warned. The name simplified from Raindrop Geomagic to Geomagic, and in 2013, the company was bought by 3D Systems, which is a 3D printing company.
I decided to join the new Institute of Science and Technology in Austria, near Vienna, starting August 2009. This promises to be challenging and invigorating. IST Austria is an ambitious acadamic start-up near Vienna. By 2018, there are about 50 research groups in computer science, mathematics, biology, neuroscience, and physics at the Institute. More to come.

Advising and Teaching

I am currently working with several post-doctoral fellows: Arseniy Akopyan, Hubert Wagner, and Anton Nikitenko. I am advising four graduate students at various stages of their program: Georg Osang, Katharina Oelsboeck, Zuzana Masarova, Teresa Heiss.


In 2011, we started an ESF Research Networking Programme in Applied Computational Algebraic Topology that involves research groups from a number of European countries. In 2016, we joined the Sonderforschungsbereich on "discretization in geometry and dynamics", which is funded in Germany by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft and in Austria by the Fonds zur Foerderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung. In 2017, we started research "toward computational information topology", which is funded by the Office of Naval Research. In the same year, we also started a collaboration with Vitaliy Kurlin on "topological data analysis for a faster discovery of new materials", which is funded by the Royal Society. 2018 was a good year for me. I started a project on "Alpha shape theory extended" funded by the European Research Council, and I received the Wittgenstein Prize, awarded by the Austrian Fonds zur Foerderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung.

Publications and Software

I published three books in the general area of computational geometry and topology, and a fourth short book will soon be on the market:
  • H. Edelsbrunner. A Short Course in Computational Geometry and Topology. Springer, Heidelberg, Germany, 2014.
  • H. Edelsbrunner and J. Harer. Computational Topology. An Introduction. Amer. Math. Soc., Providence, Rhode Island, 2010. link
  • H. Edelsbrunner. Geometry and Topology for Mesh Generation. Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge, England, 2001. link
  • H. Edelsbrunner. Algorithms in Combinatorial Geometry. Springer-Verlag, Heidelberg, Germany, 1987. link
A complete list of my publications is given in reverse chronological order. The Alpha Shapes software is designed to analyze point data in three dimensions. It specializes on molecular conformations, where a molecule is given as a set of atoms and each atom is a sphere given by its center (a point) and radius. For surface reconstruction I recommend Geomagic Wrap instead. I used that software to create the 180 wrapped tubes, which you can download in .stl format and print if you have a layered technology machine.

Please visit a brand new development within a Russian-Austrian collaboration: Hexasphere.

Contact Information

Home Page:
Phone: +43 (2243) 9000-3301
Fax: +43 (2243) 9000-2007
Surface mail:

   Herbert Edelsbrunner
   Am Campus 1
   IST Austria
   3400 Klosterneuburg

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