Computer Science Invention Lands University Another Patent

Posted: November 5, 2004 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Rey Banks

Fractal image compression, algorithms, lean domain pools.

For those not in computer science, these terms may sound confusing, but they are actually technologies you use every day. And thanks to Clifford Clausen, a former PhD student, and Harry Wechsler, a professor of computer science, they are now easier to use.

Through their newly acquired patent, Clausen and Wechsler have created a method for compressing images called fractal image compression that requires less computer disk storage, resulting in faster transmission over the Internet.

The new technology has the potential for many additional applications, such as data compression for machine-readable travel documents, human identification, verification, and surveillance for improved homeland security measures.

Fractal image compression can potentially improve such everyday services as digital TV, Internet, and web browsing through broadband video streaming, wireless Internet communication, and medical applications. Initial experiments suggest the quality of this fractal image compression approach is superior to JPEG, a standardized image compression mechanism.

Research that began in 2000 while Clausen was a student working with Wechsler resulted in the issuance of the patent four years later.

“It was Professor Wechsler’s suggestion for my dissertation project that got me going in this direction,” says Clausen, who now works for the National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health. “With his help, I was able to develop the working software that proved the benefits of reinforcement learning in relation to fractal image compression.”

The two are now examining the potential application of their invention to face recognition, a topic of particular relevance in the post-9/11 era.

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