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Alan Yuille

Computational Cognitive Science

Department of Cognitive Science, Krieger School of Arts and Sciences
Department of Computer Science, Whiting School of Engineering

Yuille is a mathematician and computer scientist studying the biology of vision. His research has been focused on the development of computational models for vision, development of mathematical models to explain cognition, artificial intelligence and neural networks in which he is now a world reference.

He is developing mathematical models of vision and cognition that allow us to build computers that, when given images or videos, can reconstruct the 3D structure of a scene. These models also serve as computational models of biological vision which can be tested by behavioral, invasive, and non-invasive techniques.

His work reaches across the computer vision, vision science, and neuroscience communities at Johns Hopkins, particularly in the schools of Arts and Sciences and Engineering.

“I’m looking forward to working across departmental boundaries to build a strong team of people who complement each other and work on the computer side and on the biology side of what I study,” said Yuille upon his appointment as a BDP.

“People think that seeing is easy because everybody can open their eyes and understand the world directly. When people started trying to create artificial intelligence, they thought vision was so easy that an MIT professor asked his student to solve it over the summer holidays,” Yuille says. Twenty years later, a computer program, Deep Blue, beat world chess champion Garry Kasparov, but computer vision systems were still unable to detect faces in images.

“There has been a lot of progress in vision in the last few years. There are now computer vision systems which, when applied to restricted domains, can perform better than humans. There is still a long way to go until a computer vision system can perform general purpose vision tasks as well as a human, but it will only be a matter of time,” he says.

Yuille joined Johns Hopkins as a Bloomberg Distinguished Professor in 2016. He was previously a full professor of statistics at the University of California, Los Angeles, with joint appointments in psychology, computer science, and psychiatry. He was the director of the UCLA Center for Cognition, Vision, and Learning, and affiliated with the UCLA Staglin Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, the Center for Brains, Minds and Machines, and the NSF Expedition in Computing, Visual Cortex On Silicon.

Yuille received a bachelor of arts degree in mathematics from the University of Cambridge in 1976. His PhD in theoretical physics, supervised by Dr. Stephen Hawking, was approved in 1981. He was then a research scientist in the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at MIT and the Division of Applied Sciences at Harvard University from 1982 to 1988. He served as an assistant and associate professor at Harvard until 1996. He was a senior research scientist at the Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute from 1996 to 2002 prior to joining UCLA.

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