In this occasional series, we ask instructors to discuss how they engage students in the great questions of our time.
Q. In a few sentences, how would you describe this course?
A. This course teaches students techniques to change digital images for various purposes. These images include landscape pictures, medical images, satellite pictures, and any other images that could be presented in digital data. Most students probably have experience of using Photoshop to make a picture look fantastic or simply rotate or zoom in on a picture. The course teaches the students what’s happening behind the scenes when you do so. Using an app to rotate an image, or make image features stand out, all require algorithms. This course does not teach Photoshop, but teaches “If that’s your goal, what’s the algorithms or the code behind doing that trick?”
Q. What makes this course appealing to students?
A. I think digital imaging techniques exist everywhere in your daily life. You may not notice it, but it’s there. For example, you have a digital camera to take a picture or video or work on Zoom. Those images and videos are transmitted through the internet. Do you want to compress that? Digital media files are huge, and you have a very limited internet band. So, you have to compress your data. That is what the course will show, for example, ‘how to compress the image.’ The techniques taught are often used in daily life, and we just aren’t aware of them. This course will show you where people use these techniques.
Q. Why is this course important?
A. The course itself introduces digital image processes, answering questions when you take a digital image, for example, what resolution do you need? showing how you can enhance, restore, compress or segment an image, etc. This course is an introduction to the basic level technique. Once students have mastered the concepts, they can relatively easily jump into more advanced technology, when needed either due to their interest or their future job or research project. Given nowadays digital images are literally everywhere in our life, knowing the basic technology behind the digital image process can be very helpful, if not essential, for research or jobs.
Q. What got you interested in this subject?
A. All my research is regarding medical images, particularly MRI for the brain. We apply advanced algorithms to medical images to help solve problems related to mental health. All of the data we analyzed come from MRIs and other digital imaging or signal techniques.
Q. What’s the most interesting or unusual assignment that you give students in this class?
A. I gave them a medical image. It was a structure of bones. The assignment was to make the bone structure stand out to see whether there was a fracture. I gave this same assignment consecutively several weeks, and each week the technique used to achieve the goal is different. Every week I will teach a new set of methods, and I will ask students to try. The goal is to have a hands-on, in-depth understanding of the technique.
— Interview by Emma Barrett (B.A., English, ’25)