Niels Joubert, PhD

  • Hello and welcome! You've found my website. Poke around! I meditate, build technology, publish research, write and curate notes, build large-scale art, and lead or participate in festivals.
  • I'm currently a Director of Software Engineering @ StackAV
  • I was formerly at Aurora, Uber, Swift Navigation, Pixar, and Yahoo! in this order
  • I completed my Computer Science PhD at Stanford University in 2017
  • I was advised by Prof. Pat Hanrahan

Talks and Notes

These are informal talks and notes on a wide range of work-in-progress and half-baked ideas.
Expect wide variations in quality, from almost-publishable to text-deluge.

You may also be interested in my undergraduate portfolio website for my pre-2010 work.


2019-06A Radio Evaluation toolkit: link budget and line-of-sight calculators
2018-02A Few Notes on Achieving and Maintaining Mental Wellness as a Stanford PhD Candidate
2018-02An Introduction to Coffee Extraction Science: Examining the SCAA Brew Control Chart and Underlying Aggregate Model for Brewing Coffee
2017-12CS107 Guest Lecture: The Git Source Code Manager, A Case Study
2016-06A Few Principles for Building a Successful Burning Man Theme Camp
2016-0510 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started My PhD
2015-12How to run a Good Meeting, especially with your Graduate Advisor
2013-03Notes on Probabilistic Inference for Computer Graphics Researchers
2013-02Get Rich Slowly - The Elements on Investing (for graduate students)
2012-07Javascript Y U So Broken: Objects, Functions and Inheritance
2012-02Some Ideas on Digital Textbooks (and Pink Floyd)
2009-04An Introduction to Simulation: Lagrangian simulation of spring-mass systems
2008-11Numerical Methods for Inverse Kinematics, a worksheet


2016-10SIGGRAPH Talk High Level Outline

Notes I Like from Colleagues

Notes listed here are either public domain or reproduced with the permission of the author.
2015-12Tips for Giving Clear Talks (mirror) by Prof. Kayvon Fatahalian
2015-12How to Write a (Systems) Paper (mirror) by Prof. Pat Hanrahan
2019Advice To Graduate Students And Researchers by Prof. John Owens
2018Design Thinking Bootleg Deck (mirror) by the Stanford
1996Technology and Courage (mirror) by Dr. Ivan Sutherland
2013Prof. Brian Harvey's Last Lecture


Developments in Modern GNSS and Its Impact on Autonomous Vehicle Architectures

2020 IEEE Intelligent Vehicle Symposium Paper

This paper presents a view of modern GNSS for automotive we developed at Swift Navigation. It surveys the "perfect storm" of developments that unlock lane-level high-integrity GNSS positioning, which enable confident lane-level decision making and maneouver planning for autonomous vehicles.

by Niels Joubert, Tyler GR Reid, Fergus Noble

Research Paper
arXiv submission

Tools to Facilitate Quadrotor-based Cinematography

2017 Stanford Thesis

Presents my overall thesis work on cinematography-first interaction with quadrotor cameras, enabling novices and experts alike to capture high quality video footage without manually pilotting a quadrotor.

Stanford Library Link (local pdf mirror)
Thesis defense video (youtube)
Thesis defense slides (just slides | with notes)

Towards a Drone Cinematographer: Guiding Quadrotor Cameras using Visual Composition Principles

2016 Paper

Presents an end-to-end system that autonomously captures cinematic shots of people using a quadrotor camera, by drawing on visual composition principles.

by Niels Joubert*, Jane L. E*, Dan B Goldman, Floraine Berthouzoz, Mike Roberts, James A. Landay, and Pat Hanrahan. Appears on arXiv 2016

Project Website | Research Paper

An Interactive Tool for Designing Quadrotor Camera Shots

2015 SIGGRAPH Asia Paper

Demonstrates a tool to preplan and automously execute cinematic trajectories using quadrotor cameras.

by Niels Joubert*, Mike Roberts*, Anh Truong, Floraine Berthouzoz, and Pat Hanrahan. Appears in SIGGRAPH Asia 2015.

Project Website | Research Paper

Liszt: A Domain Specific Language for Building Portable Mesh-Based PDE Solvers


Presents a programming language and runtime system for performant and productive mesh-based simulation programming.

by Zach DeVito, Niels Joubert, Francisco Palocios, Stephen Oakley, Montserrat Medina, Mike Barrientos, Erich Elsen, Frank Ham, Alex Aiken, Karthic Duraisamy, Eric Darve, Juan Alonso, and Pat Hanrahan.

Research Paper

BruteSaaS: A centrally managed pull-based peer-to-peer system for software distribution in enterprise environments

2011 KDDI Whitepaper

Presents a software distribution system we built at BruteSoft Inc. Demonstrates how to adapt the Bittorrent protocol with two important features for enterprise software distribution: (1) respect the asymmetric bandwidth of two-tier enterprise WAN/LAN environments, and (2) provide central management of the distributed torrent network.

by Niels Joubert

Enhancing online personal connections through the synchronized sharing of online video

2008 CHI Short Paper

Investigates the Zync video sharing system we build at Yahoo! Research Berkeley. Zync enables simultaneous, synchronous video consumption in Yahoo! messenger. We show how our system improves intimacy and personal connection between users.

by David Shamma, Marcello Bastrea-Forte, Niels Joubert and Yiming Liu.

Research Paper

Art Projects


2019 Mutant Vehicle @ Burning Man

Six giant fully-electric mutant vehicles autonomously roam the playa. One is a dancefloor. Another, a bar. A third, a chillspace. These fifteen thousand pound robots dock together to form the TechnoGecko: An animated, fire-breathing, interactively lit moving sculpture, the largest electric Mutant Vehicle ever to come to playa.

A Project by The DreamMakers.
Autonomy led by Niels Joubert.


2018, 2019 Microfestival

An artisinal handcrafted small-batch microfestival. One day of adrenatline, one day of oxytocin. Held in stunning and difficult-to-access natural environments.
Led by Niels Joubert


2018 Music Project

A Mobile Popup-Party-in-a-Box System, complete with a 3Kw soundsystem, a multi-source power system, and fully addressable RGB LED lighting. Groovebot appeared magically at the Trash Fence during Burning Man 2018, throwing impromptu popup DJ music dance parties.

Designed, Engineered, Fabricated and Produced by Niels Joubert. Music by Fergus Noble. Inspired by the 12v Music Manifesto.

Hippy Shit Smoothie Stand

2017 Art Project @ Youtopia

A demonstration of the love you can create with a blender, a giant box of healthy ingredients, and a banging sound system :)

Lovingly run by Niels Joubert and Derek Chung

The Dusty Connection

2016 Theme Camp @ Burning Man

Dusty Connection brings Radical Intimacy to the Playa. A tearoom, inside which participants play a connection game based on the 36 Questions, designed to foster deep and meaningful personal connections between citizens of Black Rock City. Grown men were crying.

Here's our 36 Questions Booklet (pdf)

Co-founded by Niels Joubert and Fergus Noble

Black Rock City Hall

2015 Mutant Vehicle @ Burning Man

A mobile City Hall for Black Rock City, providing a convenient polling location for BRC's Majoral Election Race. Sadly the ballot boxes were lost shortly after the tragic and untimely demise of the electrical system.

Co-led by Ryan Mason and Niels Joubert

Dr. Electric's Festival Spreadsheets, Advice & Opinions


2018-07Dr Electric's Honda EU2200i and Yamaha EF2000is Recommended Burning Man Generator Setup and External Run Fuel Tank Parts List
2018-07Dr. Electric's Generator Calculators: Effective Power, Apparent Load & Fuel Consumption, Sound Level, and Generator Comparisions
2018-07Dr. Electric's Comprehensive Generator Comparison Chart (Quiet, Pure Sine Wave)


2018-07Dr. Electric's 12V Music Setup, inspired by Igor's 12V Music Manifesto


2018-11An Incomplete Overview of Fire Effects

Artifacts I Like from the Community

Notes listed here are either public domain or reproduced with the permission of the author.
2016-11Coyote Nose: Tales of the Early Desert Carnies of Burning Man
2016-presentAccuracy Third: An Oral History of Black Rock City

KZSU Stanford

Futurebeat Radio

Your favorite exploration of the Beat Scene. Original Playlists Here. Spotify Playlist Here.The terrible reshaping of musical history by the walled garden that is Spotify continues to leave out many of the greatest tracks and artists. You will not find much of what was played on this station on Spotify. Death to Spotify.

The Dungeons of Rap

The ever-rotating Dungeons of Rap show. The brainchild of myself and Eric Schkufza. Original Playlists Here.