Mike Roberts
PhD Candidate
Computer Graphics Laboratory
Stanford University

Google Scholar
Curriculum Vitae


I'm a fifth-year PhD candidate in the Computer Graphics Laboratory at Stanford University advised by Pat Hanrahan. My work is at the intersection of computer graphics and robotics, where I focus on using drones to support human creativity. I spent the spring of 2016 at Skydio, and the summers of 2016 and 2017 at Microsoft Research.

Before coming to Stanford, I was a research fellow in the Visual Computing Group at Harvard University advised by Hanspeter Pfister. I collaborated with Jeff Lichtman at the Harvard Center for Brain Science to develop new image analysis methods for nanometer-scale images of brain tissue. Our work was published on the cover of Cell in 2015, and has been featured in BBC Horizon, The Guardian, Huffington Post, National Geographic, Nature News, The New York Times, and Popular Science.

In 2012, I worked with John Owens and David Luebke to develop the Introduction to Parallel Programming course at Udacity. 80,000 students from around the world have enrolled in the course.

Research Overview

I gave a talk at TEDxBerkeley 2017 summarizing my ongoing work with drones.

Selected Publications

A complete list of my publications can be found on Google Scholar.

Submodular Trajectory Optimization for Aerial 3D Scanning
Mike Roberts, Debadeepta Dey, Anh Truong, Sudipta Sinha, Shital Shah, Ashish Kapoor,
Pat Hanrahan, Neel Joshi
International Conference on Computer Vision (ICCV) 2017

Generating Dynamically Feasible Trajectories For Quadrotor Cameras
Mike Roberts, Pat Hanrahan
ACM Transactions on Graphics 35(4) (SIGGRAPH 2016)

Featured in the Highlights of SIGGRAPH session at the FMX Festival 2017
Featured in the SIGGRAPH 2016 Technical Papers Trailer

An Interactive Tool for Designing Quadrotor Camera Shots
Niels Joubert*, Mike Roberts*, Anh Truong, Floraine Berthouzoz, Pat Hanrahan
ACM Transactions on Graphics 34(6) (SIGGRAPH Asia 2015)

Featured in the SIGGRAPH Asia 2015 Technical Papers Trailer

* Authors contributed equally

Saturated Reconstruction of a Volume of Neocortex
Narayanan Kasthuri, Kenneth Jeffrey Hayworth, Daniel Raimund Berger, Richard Lee Schalek,
Jose Angel Conchello, Seymour Knowles-Barley, Dongil Lee, Amelio Vazquez-Reina, Verena Kaynig,
Thouis Raymond Jones, Mike Roberts, Josh Lyskowski Morgan, Juan Carlos Tapia,
H. Sebastian Seung, William Gray Roncal, Joshua Tzvi Vogelstein, Randal Burns,
Daniel Lewis Sussman, Carey Eldin Priebe, Hanspeter Pfister, Jeff William Lichtman
Cell 162(3), 2015

Large-Scale Automatic Reconstruction of Neuronal Processes from Electron Microscopy Images
Verena Kaynig, Amelio Vazquez-Reina, Seymour Knowles-Barley, Mike Roberts, Thouis R. Jones,
Narayanan Kasthuri, Eric Miller, Jeff Lichtman, Hanspeter Pfister
Medical Image Analysis 22(1), 2015

Design and Evaluation of Interactive Proofreading Tools for Connectomics
Daniel Haehn, Seymour Knowles-Barley, Mike Roberts, Johanna Beyer, Narayanan Kasthuri,
Jeff W. Lichtman, Hanspeter Pfister
IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics 20(12) (SciVis 2014)

A Work-Efficient GPU Algorithm for Level Set Segmentation
Mike Roberts, Jeff Packer, Mario Costa Sousa, Joseph Ross Mitchell
High Performance Graphics 2010


Flashlight: A Python Library for Analyzing and Solving Quadrotor Control Problems

Flashlight is a lightweight Python library for analyzing and solving quadrotor control problems. Flashlight enables you to easily solve for minimum snap trajectories that go through a sequence of waypoints, compute the required control forces along trajectories, execute the trajectories in a physics simulator, and visualize the simulation results. Flashlight also makes it easy to simulate external disturbances, and to recover from those disturbances using time-varying LQR feedback control. Flashlight includes physical models for 2D quadrotors, 3D quadrotors, and 3D quadrotor cameras.


Before coming to Stanford, I used to DJ in front of hundreds of people every weekend. I was a resident at Dance Party Fridays at The Republik and MOJO Saturdays at The Bamboo Tiki Room in Calgary, Canada. The Republik and the Bamboo were voted the 2nd and 3rd best places to dance in the FFWD Best of Calgary 2010. More recently, I won a national DJing competition to perform at Glowchella 2013 in San Francisco.

I think of my sound as a funky chunky soul stomp bigbeat boogaloo mashup of timeless dance music, i.e., imagine what it would sound like if James Brown, Ray Charles, The Beatles, Fatboy Slim, and Daft Punk all took acid together and played a sweaty warehouse primetime party set at the Apollo Theater Harlem NYC circa 1969.