Avi Kak's
Research Interests

My research draws from the areas of machine learning, probabilistic modeling of information, geometry of physical and data spaces, the theory of computational complexity, and notions important to programming languages and software design:


I like to use these foundational ideas to solve interesting problems in sensor networks, robotics (including computer vision), and software engineering. Here are some of the key contributions my lab has made during the last five years:


With regard to sensor networks, I am as interested in the networking aspects of wireless cameras working together as I am in how distributed computations can be carried out in such networks. My interest in wireless sensor networks has also taken me into the domain of computer and network security because when you try to create wireless-based systems for distributed intelligence, you have no choice but to pay close attention to the security aspects of the communication between the nodes.

With regard to robotics and computer vision, I am
particularly interested in issues related to object
tracking and visual servoing.

I am also strongly interested in high-level
programming languages and those aspects of
software engineering that relate to lending
organization to software so that it can be extended and
maintained easily.  

If you are a student and if you wish to work with me, there are a number
of entry points into my research.  I believe
any research-minded student with a background in computer-related,
signal-processing-related, or controls-related areas could
do productive work along the lines of my research.  At some point,
the student would need to take our courses in networking, computer vision,
machine learning, data mining, etc.  The math courses that
are useful for this kind of research are those that deal with graph
theory, differential geometry, algebraic topology, etc.

Over the years I have noticed that the students who excel in 
the kinds of things I do are those who are intrigued by how
humans think, by the mysteries of human perceptual faculties, and by the
question of whether or
not computers can be endowed with any of human sensori-motor
capabilities, even at primitive levels.

Students who have finished their Ph.D under my supervision
(fiftyone so far) have gone
on to occupy challenging positions in academia and industry.
Universities where some of these students currently work
include University of Illinois, Ohio State, University of
California, KAIST, and others, and those who are in industry have
gone to places like IBM, GE, AT&T, Interval, Apple, SRI
International, Siemens Research, Adept Robotics, Analogic,
Honeywell, Sandia Labs, ERIM, TASK, and others.

The RVL alumni who have attained the highest rank in
academia include Kim Boyer, formerly a
full Professor of ECE at Ohio-State University and now
a Dean of the College of Engineering,
State University of New York, Albany;
Seth Hutchinson, a full professor of ECE at the
University of Illinois, Champagne-Urbana; Chi-Ren
Shyu, a distinguished professor in the College of
Engineering of the University of Missouri; and Hyun
Yang, a full professor at KAIST in Korea.  And, the RVL
alumnus who has risen the highest in industry is Carl
Crawford, formerly a Vice-President at Analogic
Corporation and currently an independent consultant to

My other former students who have become luminaries in their
own right include Charles Jakowatz, Carl Crawford, Malcolm
Keith Andress, Hyun Yang, Akio
Kosaka, Seth Hutchinson, Henry Medeiros, Bunyamin Sisman,
Shivani Rao and several others.
Charles "Jack" Jakowatz, my first Ph.D. student, has become one of 
the leading figures in the country in synthetic aperture imaging.  An
author of a well-known text on the topic of synthetic 
aperture imaging, Jack is currently a group leader at Sandia Nation
Carl Crawford holds several key patents in CT imaging
and is currently an Associate Editor of the IEEE
Transactions on Medical Imaging.  Besides being a co-author
on one of my books,
Malcolm Slaney was one of
the key researchers at Interval Corporation, a new west-coast company
that was established by the Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen as an incubator of new
ideas in high technology.  Malcolm is now with Google Research in California.
Keith Andress is currently the Director of Software
Engineering at Seimens Medical Solutions, Nuclear Medicine
Hyun Yang, as a professor in the
prestigious Korea Advanced Insitute of Technology, has emerged as one of the
leading researchers in Korea in areas such as neural networks and robotics.
Akio Kosaka, in his capacity as a
member of the research staff of Olympus Corporation in Japan, is
investigating new ways of combining computer image processing with
digital imaging devices.  Seth Hutchinson, now a full professor at
the University of Illinois in Champagne-Urbana, has made a name for
himself by doing pioneering work in vision-guided servoing of robots.
Johnny Park owns what is surely one of the most successful startups 
in Purdue Research Park --- the name of his company is Spensa.
Henry Medeiros has joined the faculty at Marquette
University.  I tried very hard to keep Henry at Purdue, but
he had what is now commonly called the two-body problem,
meaning that he could only go to an organization that
offered both him and his wife faculty positions.

Last updated: June 2009

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