NEWS | July 7, 2016

Dr. Alan Schaum Elected Military Sensing Symposia Fellow

By Ashley Wall

U.S. Naval Research Laboratory theoretical physicist, Dr. Alan Schaum, Optical Sciences Division, is elected Fellow of the Military Sensing Symposia (MSS) for significant scientific and technical contributions to military sensing, including achievements in signal processing for image-based target detection and spectral data analysis.

Schaum has been a leading expert in image-based exploitation for military and intelligence applications since the early 1980s and has been a key contributor in the earliest experiments and demonstrations of the intelligence utility of polarization, panchromatic, and multispectral imaging technologies, and inventing new methodologies for handling the most common type of realistic statistical decision problems in military intelligence.

He has made seminal contributions to algorithmic methods of image registration and resampling for change detection, spectral anomaly detection, hyperspectral anomalous and signature-based change detection, and subspace methods of spectral detection, and has had a sampling of his developed algorithms (subspace RX, chronochrome, and covariance equalization) become industry benchmarks used for comparison.

Most recently, he invented a new approach to detection theory called ‘Clairvoyant Fusion’ replacing the standard method in use for many decades. The new technique has enough flexibility to accommodate necessarily flawed statistical models for multivariate detection. He also devised multi-dimensional visualization tools called “folded” and “twisted” subspaces as aids in algorithm design.

A graduate of Johns Hopkins University in 1978, Schaum holds a Ph.D. in theoretical physics. For the following five years he worked on information and queueing theory for communication network planning at Bell Labs, and since 1983 he has developed signal and image processing methods at NRL. During his tenure he has invented a host of detection-, image-, and signal processing algorithms, some of which are standard in deployed hyperspectral sensing systems.

First author of more than 100 journal and proceedings papers and co-author of dozens more, Schaum holds several patents for spectral imaging processing. He has served as conference chair for the Optical Society of America’s meeting on Hyperspectral Imaging and Sensing of the Environment, and as keynote, plenary and invited speaker and session chair at many other technical conferences. He serves on several committees for optics and pattern recognition organizations, is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, and is a Fellow of the society SPIE — the international society advancing an interdisciplinary approach to the science and application of light.

As a Fellow of the MSS, Schaum joins a select group of individuals recognized for their sustained significant contribution to military sensing technology that is, or can be, applied to national defense or homeland security. Fellows are nominated by their peers, reviewed and recommended for confirmation by a committee of existing Fellows, and confirmed by the Executive Committee of the MSS.