Making Sense of Meaning - New Computational Perspectives

Professor Hari Sundaram
Dept. of Computer Science Arizona State University

Friday, May 16, 11am
SITE 5084, 800 King Edward Ave

Sponsored  by



The problem of the "semantic gap," - how to resolve sensory data to meaning, is a familiar and significant challenge within the media computing and AI communities. Today, a majority of the work in resolving the semantic gap lies in the learning paradigm, where our knowledge of the domain is encoded in terms of identification of effective features and appropriate learning algorithms. This talk will offer two long term research perspectives to address the semantic gap, where computational learning is integral, but which expand the problem space.

The first perspective is in integrating multimedia with the physical world. The important consequence of this idea is that we move away from offline analysis of media semantics. In this idea, semantics are jointly constructed by the media system and the user, within a real-time, mediated, feedback control loop. I shall present our work in stroke rehabilitation as a specific example of this class of research. The goal of this research is to transfer the specific movement semantics, to enable stroke patients to perform challenging functional tasks ("reach and grasp a cup"). The second perspective is recognizing that meaning is an emergent, evolving artifact of collaborative human activity. In this idea, identification of human networks that produce meaning is a critical first step. I will present community discovery in large scale blog networks as a concrete example of this research. 

Both long term research frameworks provide us with a fresh set of computational problems that are synergistic with the learning paradigm. I shall briefly present other examples - optimal resource constrained real-time decision making, information flow in online networks, and collaborative annotation in data sparse media collections.

Biography of Hari Sundaram

Hari Sundaram is currently an assistant professor of media arts and computing, with the Arts Media and Engineering program, and Computer Science at Arizona State University. He received his Ph.D. from the Department of Electrical Engineering at Columbia University in 2002. He received his MS degree in Electrical Engineering from SUNY Stony Brook 1995 and a B.Tech in Electrical Engineering from Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi in 1993.

  His intellectual commitment is towards understanding how meaning emerges through our engagement with the physical online worlds. His research has focused on two complementary (but coupled) directions - (a) designing intelligent media environments that exist as part of our physical world (e.g. mediated environments that assist stroke patients recover) (b) developing new algorithms and systems to understand the media artifacts resulting from human activity (e.g. emails, photos / video). Specific projects include - context models for interpreting human action, understanding communication patterns in media sharing social networks, collaborative annotation, as well discovering emergent groups in online social networks.

His research has won several awards - the best student paper award at JCDL 2007, the best ACM Multimedia demo award in 2006. The best student paper award at ACM Multimedia 2002, the 2002 Eliahu I. Jury Award for best Ph.D. dissertation. He has also received a best paper award on video retrieval from IEEE Trans. On Circuits and Systems for Video Technology, 2000.

  He is an active participant in the Multimedia community - he is an associate editor for ACM Transactions on Multimedia Computing, Communications and Applications (TOMCCAP), as well as the IEEE Signal Processing magazine. He has co-organized workshops at acm multimedia on experiential telepresence (ETP 2003, ETP 2004), archival of personal experiences (CARPE 2004, CARPE 2005) and a conference of image and video retrieval (CIVR 2006).


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