Friday, February 4, 2011

New SPIE Fellow at EI

Each year, SPIE promotes members as new Fellows of the Society. Fellows are Members of distinction who have made significant scientific and technical contributions in the multidisciplinary fields of optics, photonics, and imaging. They are honored for their technical achievement, for their service to the general optics community, and to SPIE in particular. "The annual recognition of Fellows provides an opportunity for us to acknowledge Members for their outstanding technical contributions and service to SPIE," says Katarina Svanberg, SPIE President.

Yu-Jin Zhang and Majid Rabbani at EI

At this year's EI, Prof. Yu-Jin Zhang of Tsinghua University was promoted for achievements in image engineering

Prof. Zhang studied image processing in Belgium and plays and important international role as an influential scientific ambassador. Now at Tsinghua University in Beijing, he is active in European national science foundations and in American learned societies.

I first met Prof. Zhang when he joined the Program Committee of the Internet Imaging Conference I organized for the SPIE/IS&T Electronic Imaging Symposium (part of Photonics West) from 2000 on. He was an active member who helped me setting the direction for the conference and solicited a number of papers. I then met him again when he joined the Review Panel of the Swiss National Center of Competence in Research on Interactive Multimodal Information Management (IM2). More recently, in 2008 he took my place as an Associate Editor for electronic imaging at Optical Engineering.

During his career, Prof. Zhang has chosen a number of fields in electronic imaging and taken a deep dive. This results in two accomplishments. The first is the scientific advancement of the field that can be achieved by taking a fresh look from the distance and gaining new insights. The second is the creation of new curricula and the authoring of novel text books. For example, his 2009 book on Image Engineering is the first comprehensive textbook on this topic since Pratt's 1991 Digital Image Processing.

Yu-Jin Zhang: Image Engineering

In research, the first field Prof. Zhang tackled was image segmentation. He created a new framework that first allowed him to efficiently implement and compare existing methods, and then allowed him to invent new approaches and algorithms.

In the second deep dive, he tackled a larger field, namely image and video retrieval. There are several retrieval methods: object based, feature based, semantic based, (surrounding) text based, etc. Prof. Zhang has created and deployed a framework like in the image segmentation case, but this time more general to cover all retrieval paradigms. He shares his knowledge in machine learning for imaging not only in publications and education, but also in providing direction to IM2.

The scope was again broadened in his third deep dive, this time encompassing all of electronic imaging. He had developed a structured view of the field, which has culminated in the Image Engineering book.

In summary, Prof. Zhang is a prolific scientific pollinator across continents and excels both in research and in education. At EI 2011 he was also awarded a certificate of appreciation for his work starting up a new conference on Parallel Processing for Internet Imaging.