Dr. Jan Allebach:
Research in Imaging and Printing – A Career between Academia and Industry

Event Date: April 9, 2014
Hosted By: OAA
Time: 4:00 PM
Location: POTR 234
Contact Name: Marsha Freeland
Contact Phone: 765-494-5349
Contact Email: mjfreeland@purdue.edu
Open To: ALL
Dr. Jan P. Allebach


During my career, I have seen computer input mechanisms evolve from the punch card to touch screens, and CPU memory increase from Kbytes to Gbytes. But what has fascinated me the most is the impact that these advances in electronics have had on a technology that has been used for over 2,000 years – printing. Why should this be? Perhaps it is the appreciation for the aesthetic quality of printed media, which developed during the hours spent as a teenager in the darkroom developing black and white photographs, for which the absolute extremes of pure whites and rich blacks define a halftone print. Or perhaps it is the fascination with an imaging modality for which the limitations of the human visual system are absolutely key, and for which the ultimate degree of nonlinearity between input and output nonetheless admits the application of Fourier analysis methods that are much more commonly associated with linear systems.

However, when I arrived at Purdue in 1983, 6.5 years into my academic career, I had largely ceased to work in this area. I was convinced that a close association with industry was necessary to truly understand what were the important problems to be solved in the area of printing. At Purdue, I have had the opportunity to work with a number of companies, and to do so in collaboration with faculty members from a range of disciplines, and many graduate students who have been absolutely critical to the success of my research enterprise. But it has been the relationship with HP that really provided the fertile ground for a career devoted to printing. Now, 20+ years into that relationship, I like to tell students who are considering whether or not to work with me that “everything I do has something to do with printing, but it might not be what they would expect.” My research has ranged from the development of core algorithms for the imaging pipeline of a multifunction printer that can also scan and copy, to the development of software tools to make it easier for the user to create content, which he or she will want to print.

Today, the field of printing is rapidly evolving. Shifting reading habits, driven by ubiquitous mobile devices; the emergence of digital presses for high-end commercial printing of marketing collateral and packaging; closing the loop from bits to paper, and then from paper back to bits, with embedded metadata; and finally, the emergence of 3D printers and more generally, printing as a tool for manufacturing; all pose exciting new challenges and opportunities that I will discuss.


Jan P. Allebach received his BSEE from the University of Delaware in 1972 and his Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1976. He was on the faculty at the University of Delaware from 1976 to 1983. Since 1983, he has been at Purdue University where he is currently Hewlett-Packard Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering. His current research interests include image rendering, image quality, color imaging and color measurement, printer and sensor forensics, and digital publishing. The results of his research have been licensed to major digital printing and imaging vendors and can be found in products that have sold hundreds of millions units worldwide. Prof. Allebach has published over 90 papers in refereed journals and over 232 conference publications. He is inventor on 15 issued patents. The results of his research on image rendering algorithms have been licensed to major vendors of imaging products, and can be found in tens of millions of units that have been sold worldwide.
Prof. Allebach is a Fellow of the IEEE Signal Processing (SP) Society, the Society for Imaging Science and Technology (IS&T), and SPIE. He has been especially active with the IEEE SP Society and IS&T. He has served as Distinguished/Visiting Lecturer for both societies, and has served as an officer and on the Board of Directors of both societies. Prof. Allebach is a past Associate Editor for the IEEE Transactions on Signal Processing and the IEEE Transactions on Image Processing. He is presently Editor for the IS&T/SPIE Journal of Electronic Imaging. He received the Senior (best paper) Award from the IEEE Signal Processing Society and the Bowman Award from IS&T. In 2004, he was named Electronic Imaging Scientist of the Year by IS&T and SPIE. He is the recipient of five teaching awards from Purdue University and co-recipient with five other Purdue faculty members of the 2006 Purdue College of Engineering Team Award in recognition of his long-term work with HP. In 2007, he was named Honorary Member of IS&T “for many and diverse contributions to imaging science; including halftoning, digital image processing, color management, visual perception, and image quality,” the highest award that IS&T bestows. In 2008, he received the Purdue College of Engineering Mentoring Excellence Award and the Purdue Sigma Xi Faculty Research Award.