Simon Lok

I'm a Ph.D. Candidate in the Computer Graphics and UI Lab, Dept. of  Computer Science, Columbia University


Automated Layout of Information Presentations - I teach computers how to generate layouts that are typically created manually by a graphic designer. My most recent works focuses on algorithms to evaluate and improve the visual balance of a layout.

Simon Lok, Steven Feiner and, Gary Ngai. Visual Balance for Automated Layout. Proceedings of the 2004 Conference on Intelligent User Interfaces (IUI2004), January 2004. In this paper, I introduce the WeightMap, a bitmap representation of the visual weight of a presentation. I also present algorithms that use WeightMaps to evaluate the effectiveness of a layout as well as suggest improvements.

Simon Lok and Min-Yen Kan. Employing Natural Language Summarization and Automated Layout for Effective Presentation and Navigation of Information Retrieval Results. Proceedings of the 12th International World Wide Web Conference (WWW2003), May 2003. This paper describes the employment of multi-document summarization and automated layout as a post-processing step in document retrieval. We also examine the use of an interactive textual fisheye that employs automated layout techniques to present a generated natural language summary as a replacement to the standard ranked list.

Simon Lok and Steven Feiner. The AIL Automated Interface Layout System. Proceedings of the 2002 Conference on Intelligent User Interfaces (IUI2002), January 2002. Idescribe a very early version of the AIL system in this paper. The focus is leveraging meta-data provided by natural language systems for automated layout.

Simon Lok and Steven Feiner. A Survey of Automated Layout Techniques for Information Presentations. Proceedings of the 2001 SmartGraphics Symposium (SG2001), March 2001. In this paper, Steve and I survey and analyze the techniques used by research systems that have automated layout components and suggest areas of possible future work.

Remote Java Foundation Classes - An approach to thin-client computing based on GUI toolkits and code generation.

Simon Lok, Steven Feiner, William Chiong and Yoav Hirsch. A Graphical User Interface Toolkit Approach to Thin Client Computing. Proceedings of the 11th International World Wide Web Conference (WWW2002), May 2002. This paper describes the RJFC system of thin-client computing where UI toolkit commands are remotely executed on a client while the application logic executes on a server.

RJFC Project Website

I have also previously worked in computer vision (with Shree Nayar), microwave frequency logic gates and other related fields.

Contact Info:

    Lab - 6LE3, CEPSR.  212 939 7101
    Office - 613, CEPSR.  212 939 7063
    Email - lok @
    Web -
    UNI - sl685

About me:

    Birthdate:    Jan 12, 1978
        Master of Science, Comp. Sci., Columbia Univ. Jan 2000.
       Bachelor of Eng. & Master of Eng. in Electrical Eng., Cooper Union, Class of 1998
       Hunter College High School, Class of 1995
       Music... I play piano & synthesizer, I like to listen to Erasure, Enya, show tunes and classical music
       Fitnesss... rollerblading, racketball, kick boxing and more recently, snowboarding
       Reading... sci-fi, fantasy, health and nutrition, crypto
   Pictures:    (in lab, wearing camera) (at our ISAR '01 demo booth) (helping test our ISAR'01 demo)
    Misc. Stuff:
        My Cantonese and Spanish are pretty reasonable... the former being due to my parents, the latter b/c of Hunter
       Phil Greenspun has webpages that are absolutely hilarious and are a must read
       I'm a huge fan of OpenBSD
       I don't wear glasses or contacts
       What do hackers and painters have in common?.
       Here is a message for all of the developers trying to code high level apps in C or C++.
       I don't know how to use Emacs and I'm proud of this fact. VI rules.
       I am a born-again Christian... yes it is possible to be a Christian and a scientist at the same time
       I happen to be a MCSE and CCNA... sometimes it's the bane of my existence, other times it's saved me big time.
        Read this if you want to see the result of thoughtful design, one of the many reasons why Apple totally rocks
       I have very strong opinions about things...
            ... Apple and IBM are the only companies that make notebooks (I currently have a T23 and a 17" PB G4)
            ... there are only 4 ways to fix a computer: reboot, reformat, flash the bios, buy a new one
            ... my favorite car company is BMW (I own a TiAg '01 E46 M3)

 Tired of hearing me talk about myself?  Here are some statements others have about me:

What Famous Leader Are You?
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What Classic Movie Are You?
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Extroverted (E) 53.57% Introverted (I) 46.43%
Imaginative (N) 58.14% Realistic (S) 41.86%
Intellectual (T) 51.35% Emotional (F) 48.65%
Easygoing (P) 51.16% Organized (J) 48.84%
Your type is: ENTP
You are an Inventor, possible professions include - systems designer, venture capitalist, actor, journalist, investment broker, real estate agent, real estate developer, strategic planner, political manager, politician, special projects developer, literary agent, restaurant/bar owner, technical trainer, diversity manager, art director, personnel systems developer, computer analyst, logistics consultant, outplacement consultant, advertising creative director, radio/TV talk show host.
Take Free Career Inventory Personality Test
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Personality Disorder Test Results
Paranoid |||||||||||||||||||| 90%
Schizoid |||||||||||| 42%
Schizotypal |||||||||||||||||| 74%
Antisocial |||||||||||||||||||| 90%
Borderline |||||||||||||||||||| 86%
Histrionic |||||||||||||||||| 74%
Narcissistic |||||||||||||||| 62%
Avoidant |||||||||||||||| 70%
Dependent |||||||||||||| 54%
Obsessive-Compulsive |||||||||||||||||||| 90%
Take Free Personality Disorder Test

Not to say that you should believe what other people say or think about me either... anyway, i'll shut-up now.