2019 Washington College Mathematics Conference

Invited Speakers

Kathryn Leonard

Kathryn LeonardOn Friday evening, Kathryn Leonard from Occidental College will present a talk entitled “Getting your computer into shape: Toward automated understanding of the shape of objects in two and three dimensions.”

Kathryn Leonard’s research interests are in geometric modeling with applications to computer vision and computer graphics. Her work has been recognized with a CAREER award from NSF, the Henry L. Alder Award for Excellence in Teaching from the MAA, and a Service Award from the AWM. She became a math major in her junior year of college, after her petition to waive the university’s math GE requirement was rejected. Currently, she is professor and chair of the newly formed Computer Science department at Occidental College. She has held positions at CSU Channel Islands (where she helped build a university), Caltech, MSRI and Pomona College. She still gets no respect from her cats.

Talk abstract: Shape understanding—looking at a shape and intuitively understanding which parts comprise body, arms, legs, toes and ears—is almost effortless for humans. Training a computer to understand shapes in a similar way presents substantial challenges. This talk will discuss human shape perception and the challenges of automation. We will describe a promising shape model, the Blum medial axis. Using the Blum medial axis, we will propose a method for automatically decomposing a shape into a hierarchy of parts and determining the similarity between those parts. We will end by comparing our automated results to human perception data gathered from a massive user study.