Showing posts from December, 2005

Peer review, human nature and scientific publication

Peer review determines what gets published and what gets funded in science and technology, at least in academia. Since most (all?) institutions evaluate their researchers based on their publication and fund raising records, the defining principle of scientific life. It is what distinguishes the respected professional from the mad scientist operating unchecked in his garage/home office. A bulletin from the Office of Management and Budget titled "Final Information Quality Bulletin for Peer Review" ( ) gives the following definition: "Peer review is one of the important procedures used to ensure that the quality of published information meets the standards of the scientific and technical community. It is a form of deliberation involving an exchange of judgments about the appropriateness of methods and the strength of the author's inferences. Peer review involves the review of a draft product for quality by spec

Synthesis, analysis and invariants

"If people do not believe that mathematics is simple, it is only because they do not realize how complicated life is." -- J. H. Von Neumann One can wonder why computer vision (CV) has not benefited from the increase in computational power as much as computer graphics (CG), although the two fields grew from the same seminal work (Roberts, 1965). CG is a synthesis activity, that starts from mathematical models of some physical objects and their environment, and applies some mathematical models of light and material physics to create an image of the objects in their environments under various conditions. Better models, and computational power directly translate into more realistic images. The models are designed by humans. Computer vision is an analysis activity, that seeks to form models of objects, environments, situations, activities, etc., from images (still pictures or video streams). Depending on their intended purpose, these models are not necessarily of the same natur

Scientific freedom

"I have just one wish for you--the good luck to be somewhere where you are free to maintain the kind of integrity I have described, and where you do not feel forced by the need to maintain your position in the organization, or financial support, or so on, to lose your integrity. May you have that freedom." Richard P. Feynman, "Cargo Cult Science," adapted from the Caltech commencement address given in 1974, published in "Surely you're joking, Mr. Feynman" (Norton, 1985).