04/19/2002 07:00:00

Caltech Professor to Speak on Giving Vision to Machines

PASADENA, Calif.- In our daily life we can recognize our shoes, the grocery store, automobiles, animals, and our mother-in-law, just by looking. How do we do it? How did we learn to do it? And, can we build a machine that will do it too? On Wednesday, April 24, Pietro Perona, a professor of electrical engineering and the director of the Center for Neuromorphic Systems Engineering at the California Institute of Technology, will address these questions in his talk "Can a Machine Learn to Play 'Where's Waldo?'," one of the ongoing Earnest C. Watson Lecture Series that takes place on the Caltech campus.

Biological organisms see, smell, hear, touch, learn, make decisions, and recognize patterns to a degree that still escapes modern machines. Perona and his colleagues at Caltech are working toward endowing machines with equivalent sensory systems that will enable them to assist in such things as driving cars on busy roads, detecting dangerous people in airports, and searching for images on the Web.

Caltech has offered the Watson Lecture Series for almost 80 years, since it was conceived by the late Caltech physicist Earnest Watson as a way to explain science to the local community. Seating is available on a free, no-ticket-required, first-come, first-served basis. The lecture will take place on Wednesday at 8 p.m. in Beckman Auditorium, which is located near Michigan Avenue south of Del Mar Boulevard, on Caltech's campus in Pasadena.