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Friday, May 9, 2008

Scientist Appreciation: David Lowe

Oddly enough, the scientist for this week doesn't have a Wikipedia page. While there are plenty of scientists without Wikipedia pages, this fellow was repeatedly mentioned in two of my courses this semester with several ground-breaking computer vision algorithms to his name. The ubiquity of his name in my courses while at the same time his relative anonymity online I find slightly odd (though, of course, he has his own website from UBC where he currently teaches).

The algorithm of his that I am the most familiar with is called SIFT (scale-invariant feature transform, which does have a Wikipedia page), which is a remarkably robust image recognition algorithm for finding specific objects in images. The actual difficulty of this problem is a great deal higher than most people realise (a subject that I might write about in the near future), and the accuracy of the SIFT algorithm is quite impressive. In addition to SIFT and other recognition work, Dr. Lowe has also done work on automatically stitching together panoramic image scenes from a disjointed set of images, robot guidance, and scene manipulation.

While his list of accomplishments and influential algorithms is quite long and impressive, what is also great about David Lowe is that he is still conducting research at UBC. This means that there is actually a small iota of a chance that I might actually get to meet him one of these days and make some sort of silly, awestruck comment about how remarkably clever his work is.