NEWS | June 1, 2012

NRL Physicist Elected 2012 SPIE Fellow

By Daniel Parry

U.S. Naval Research Laboratory theoretical physicist, Dr. Alan Schaum, Optical Sciences Division, is elected 2012 Fellow by the Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE) for his significant scientific and technical contributions in the fields of hyperspectral image analysis, signal processing and pattern recognition.

Schaum is a leading expert in signal processing methods for image registration, digital re-sampling and data compression as well as in correction algorithms for detector non-uniformity and other sensor artifacts. With an emphasis on multivariate detection theory and the modeling of hyperspectral signatures and their dynamics, Schaum most recently developed a new theory of inference for addressing pattern recognition problems with model uncertainties.

Receiving a doctorate in theoretical physics from Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Md., Schaum's early research focused on relativistic quantum field theory, what is now called the standard model of elementary particles. Later, at Bell Laboratories' complex in Holmdel, N.J., he applied queuing and information theories to problems in network planning and digital signal processing.

Since moving to NRL in 1983, Schaum has developed signal and image processing methods for a variety of electro-optic technologies for airborne and space-based systems. He has particular expertise in the modeling of hyperspectral signatures and their dynamics.

Throughout his NRL career Schaum has devised seminal algorithms for anomalous change detection and physics-based discrimination methods for multispectral/hyperspectral and panchromatic imaging systems. He invented a sub-branch of detection theory called continuum fusion, which applies to any multivariate sensing modality, including radio frequency, magnetic, acoustic, spectral, time series, as well as more arcane sensing modalities.

Schaum also developed novel techniques for anomaly detection and target discrimination using joint subspace models. These have found widespread use in detecting targets and classifying other objects of interest for military and intelligence applications. In particular, his new approaches have impacted many areas of imaging in clutter including operational systems for autonomous detection of difficult targets in difficult backgrounds.

A longtime contributor to SPIE, to include continuing involvement in the Conference on Algorithms and Technologies for Multispectral, Hyperspectral and Ultraspectral Imagery at the SPIE Defense, Security, and Sensing Symposia, Schaum has also contributed substantially to other scientific societies such as IEEE, through chairing the Hyperspectral Science and Signal Processing Session at the IEEE Aerospace Conference and the IEEE Workshop on Hyperspectral Image and Signal Processing: Evolution in Remote Sensing. Schaum has represented NRL in many government working groups, such as the Nonproliferation and Arms Control Working Group, was a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's (NATO's) Research and Technology Agency and a subject area expert for the Military Sensing Symposia.

Founded in 1955, SPIE is the international society for optics and photonics, created to advance an interdisciplinary approach to the science and application of light. Each year, SPIE promotes members as new Fellows of the Society. SPIE Fellows are members of distinction who have made significant scientific and technical contributions in the multidisciplinary fields of optics, photonics, and imaging. They are honored for their technical achievement, service to the general optics community and to SPIE in particular.