The USC Signal and Image Processing Institute (SIPI) was one of the first research organizations in the world dedicated to image processing. Image processing work began at USC in 1962 and the Institute itself was founded in 1971 by William K. Pratt and Harry C. Andrews with support from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). During the 1970s, researchers at SIPI concentrated on the basic theory of image processing and applications to image de-blurring, image coding and feature extraction. Much of the early work on transform coding, now the basis of the JPEG and MPEG standards for still and video image compression and transmission, was conducted within SIPI.
The Image Database that has been developed at SIPI since the 1970s has been distributed world wide and provides many of the standard test images found throughout the image processing literature of the past 30 years - probably the best known of these is the "Lena" image shown here.
Harry Andrews and Bill Pratt left USC in the late 1970's to work in corporations developing commercial image processing applications. Dr. Andrews is now a Senior VP with 3M Corporation while Dr. Pratt has held senior positions with Compression Labs, Sun Microsystems, and Photon Dynamics. In the years since, the Institute has been directed by Alexander A. Sawchuk, Rama Chellappa, Jerry Mendel, Bart Kosko and Richard Leahy. Building on the foundations laid by its founders, SIPI has expanded its research scope to include many aspects of signal and image processing theory and applications.
Research in SIPI has been at the forefront of signal processing with fundamental work on the development of signal processing theory based on higher-order statistics, fuzzy logic and artificial neural networks. SIPI researchers are also active in the design of VLSI, optical and opto-electronic systems for fast implementation of signal processing algorithms. Faculty in SIPI are involved in applying state of the art signal processing techniques to a wide range of real world problems. Recent applications include medical imaging, array signal processing, immersive audio, video image compression and other multimedia related technologies. Faculty and students in SIPI have access to a number of world class facilities including image compression, immersive audio, and optical computing labs. Facilities for fabrication of microelectronic and electro-optical devices and a network of workstations and computers provide a rich infrastructure for research in signal and image processing.
The Institute maintains close academic ties with the Department of Electrical Engineering and other departments and institutes within the university. The Institute currently consists of 12 full-time faculty, approximately 60 students and several full-time administrative, technical, and research staff. The faculty of SIPI have been recognized through awards given by a number of professional societies, including the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the Optical Society of America (OSA), and the Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). SIPI faculty serve as editors for IEEE and OSA publications. Four of the faculty are Fellows of the IEEE, one is a Fellow of the OSA and SPIE, and one is a member of the National Academy of Engineering.
The faculty in SIPI are involved in a range of interdisciplinary research projects with collaborations with faculty in the medical school and the departments of psychology, cinema-TV, politics and others. Recently, Professor Nikias led a team of researchers from SIPI and other academic and research groups within USC in the formation of the Integrated Media Systems Center (IMSC). In 1996 this center was funded by the National Science Foundation as one of the Engineering Research Centers. With more than 40 corporate sponsors, in addition to the NSF, the Integrated Media Systems Center is a national center for research in multimedia related technologies with a multimillion dollar budget.
Graduate students play a central role in the life of the Institute. There is a close interaction between the members of the Institute and their students. Seminars within SIPI involve faculty, students, and guest speakers from other universities and local industry. There are also numerous informal group meetings within SIPI on topics ranging from image compression to functional brain mapping. SIPI has graduated more than 200 Ph.D. students since its inception. They now occupy positions throughout academia and industry. Students considering pursuing a graduate degree in the area of signal and image processing are encouraged to browse through the web site for more information on research at SIPI and on how to join the Institute as a research assistant.