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Instructors: Alexei Efros and Lavanya Sharan (Disney Research)

Class Description:
Why do things look the way they do? Why is understanding the visual world, while so effortless for humans, so excruciatingly difficult for computers? What insights from the human visual system can we use in computer vision? What quirks of visual perception can we exploit in computer graphics? In this seminar course, through lectures, paper presentations, and projects, we will explore a number of familiar yet mysterious perceptual phenomena that involve color, illumination and shadows, material and object appearance, scenes, movement etc., both in terms of understanding (computer vision) as well as modeling (computer graphics). Basic techniques for designing psychophysical experiments will also be presented.

Prerequisites: Any computer vision or computer graphics class.

Book: Visual Perception from a Computer Graphics Perspective (Thompson, Fleming, Creem-Regehr, Stefanucci; AK Peters 2011)


1. Class participation (25%): Ask questions, debate, fight, be involved! Post on class blog (the readings you are asked to post about are in colored boxes in the Schedule). Summaries of the readings in hard copy are due in class and blog comments on the readings are due before class.

2. Analysis Projects (25% + 25%): Pick one CVG (computer vision and graphics) slot and one P (perception) slot from the Papers List for presentations. The CVG slot and P slot should be on different days. Once your slot choices are confirmed (email sharan@cs....; first-come-first-serve allocation), you must meet with the instructors twice: ~2 weeks before and ~2 days before you present. Use these meetings to shape, critique, and enhance your presentations. We expect an implementation (for CVG papers) and a perceptual study (for P papers).

3. Synthesis Project (25%): Produce a publishable result (implementation or perceptual study). This can be a continuation of one of your Analysis projects, based on your own research, or something new. Can be done solo or in groups of two.

Working with Human Subjects:

You are encouraged to take the online human subjects research training through the CMU Regulatory Compliance Office page (go to Education Requirements and follow the link to the CITI website). It takes a few hours to complete the training. At the end, you will be given a certificate that you should save a (soft and hard) copy of.

You will be asked to gather data from human subjects for this class. If there is any possibility that this data will be used in your research/a publication/a technical or even an internal report, you must file an IRB application to have your experimental protocol reviewed and approved by the CMU Institutional Review Board. Once your protocol is approved, you may then conduct studies and use the data you collect for purposes beyond the educational setting of this class.