Martin Heller

Business Address

  • Department of Geography, University of Zürich (Irchel), Winterthurerstrasse 190, CH-8057 Zürich (Switzerland)
  • Phone: + 41-1-635 52 56
  • Fax: +41-1-635 68 48
  • E-mail:

Personal Data

  • Citizenship: American and Swiss
  • Home address: Buhnstrasse 8, CH-8052 Zürich (Switzerland)
  • Home phone: +41-1-302 31 39


  • Language skills: German (native language), English, French.
  • University of Zürich, Switzerland,
  • Ph.D. thesis topic:
  • « Adaptive Triangulation Methods for Terrain Modeling ».
  • pending graduation Summer, 1999
  • University of Basel, Switzerland, 1974-1981, major: Physics, minors: Mathematics, Geology.
  • Supplemental coursework in digital cartography, computer science, geophysics and image processing at the Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), Zürich.
  • MS-degree in Physics with thesis entitled: « R-matrix Analysis of aScattering Experiment: The Alpha* and the Neutron Scattering Length of3He ».

Professional Positions

  • Trendscout, Internet Access, Zürich, 1998-1999. Technical advisor to the board of directors.
  • Senior Research Scientist, Department of Geography, University of Zürich, 1993-1997. Research, research supervision, teaching, consulting.
  • Departmental Computer Scientist (Instituts informatiker), Department of Geography, University of Zürich, 1991-1993.
  • Research Associate, Department of Geography, University of Zürich, 1987-1991. Research on adaptive triangulation methods.
  • Research Associate, Department of Geography, University of Zürich, 1985-1987. Project « Computer-Aided Modeling and Visualization of Spatial Structures in the Geosciences » (Swiss National Science Foundation, Contracts 2.391-084, 2.082-0.86). Development of a triangulation based interpolation system.
  • Visiting Senior Software Engineer and Consultant, Environmental Systems Research Institute (Canada, USA), 1984-1985. Design and implementation of interpolation algorithms based on Delaunay triangulations. The results were integrated into Arc Info as the basis for the terrain modeling package Arc TIN.
  • Research Associate, Department of Geography, University of Zürich, 1984. Work on methods for modeling and visualization of spatial structures in the geosciences. Design of the architecture for a terrainmodeling system.
  • Research Associate, Department of Geology, University ofBasel, 1982-1984. Work on computer-assisted geological modeling methods to support the federal project group for geothermal energy of the City of Basel.
  • Consulting to the Institute of Hydrogeology in Neuchatel (graphical representation of finite element ground water models).
  • Senior Software Engineer, CAD-Systems Co., Basel1982-1984. Algorithm design. Creation of the visualization sub-system for a commercial computer-aided design software.
  • Senior Software Engineer and Researcher, Scientific Computing Research group at Sandoz Pharmaceuticals Co. 1981. Design of an imagery system for molecular modeling. Research on audiovisual presentation techniques and proximity analysis for multidimensional statistical data.
  • Research Assistant, in the particle-physics group of the Physics Department of the University of Basel, 1979-1980. Analysis of a 64MeV scattering experiment at the SIN injector cyclotron using real-time graphics to find solutions of a very complexsystem of equations (R-Matrix representation).

Courses of Instruction

  • Object-Oriented Methods for Spatial Problems (Department of Geography, University of Zürich, 1993-97).
  • Special Topics in Geo informatics (Department of Geography, University ofZürich, 1993-97).
  • Geographical Information Systems III: Architecture, Structures and Algorithms (Department of Geography, University of Zürich, 1989-1992).
  • Computer Graphics Software Packages - design and applications (Departmentof Geography, University of Zürich, 1989-1991).
  • Mediator/Instructor at the Summer-School « Computer and Arts » in Lugano (1989-1991).
  • Initiator of the Apple Developer University - Switzerland, courses for professional Apple developers. Instructor for the courses: «Macintosh Programming Fundamentals », « MacintoshProgrammer's Workshop », « Introduction to Object Programming with Object Pascal andC++» and « Object Programming with MacApp » (1987-1991).

Consulting Activities

  • Consultant to the Swiss Senate and Congress Committe concerning thereform of Swiss surveying practices towards digital methods (1990-1991).
  • Consultant to the Surveying Department of the City of Zürich (1989-1991). Evaluation of GIS/LIS systems.

Extracurricular Activities

  • Designer of TOPOROBOT, a system for modeling and visualization of caves (1972-present). The resulting Macintosh based software package, as well as its associated survey approach is used by many speleologists worldwide and is considered the most advanced in the field.
  • Initiator and Principal Designer of the Macintosh Bulletin Board at the Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), 1985-1991.
  • Initiator, founding member and first president of the Macintosh Users Switzerland (1986).


  • First Price (Diapos d' Or) for the slide show « Caving » at the International Competition for Audiovisual Presentations in Arles (France), 1981.
  • First and Second price at the International Computer Graphics Competitionat the Hannover fair in Germany, April, 1984
  • Grand Prix du Public, 12e Congrès International de Spéléologie, La Chaux de Fonds, August, 1997


  • Computer graphics images created originally for scientific purposes wereexhibited at SIGGraph art shows (1985, 1986). Images: «Eternal braid » and « Big Blue » were chosen for the « SIGGRAPH Traveling Exhibition of Computer Art » and were shown in various museums in the USA and Japan (1987).
  • SIGGRAPH Art Show at ART EXPO NewYork (April, 1985).
  • ADP Traveling Computer Art Show (April-June 1985).
  • Art shows in Zürich (January, 1985), Spreitenbach (May, 1985), New York (July-August 1985).

Scientific Committees

  • Scientific Commission of the Swiss Speleological Society
  • Speleological Commission of the Swiss Academy for Natural Sciences (Académie Suisse des Sciences Naturelles).

Research Interests

  • Geographical Information Systems, modeling and visualization in the geosciences, algorithm design, computational geometry, computer graphics, interpolation, triangulation methods, object programming, adaptive systems, computer assisted generalisation, user interface design.

© Le Kalimanthrope, 1999.