9.357 | Fall 2001 | Graduate

Special Topics in Vision Science


Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 1 session / week, 1.5 hours / session


An advanced seminar on issues of current interest in human and machine vision. Topics vary from year to year. This year, the class will involve studying the perception of materials. A topic and a set of readings will be chosen each week, and a participant will be in charge of leading discussion. Topics will be tackled from multiple standpoints, including optics, psychophysics, computer graphics and computer vision. Exact topics will be determined by the participants.

Material Appearance: Physical, Perceptual and Computational Issues


  • The interaction of light and matter
  • How material surfaces are formed and deformed

Human perception

  • Lightness, color, and transparency
  • Gloss, texture, and other complex properties

Computer vision

  • Texture analysis and synthesis
  • Separation of illumination and reflectance

Computer graphics

  • Simple parametric models for reflectance
  • Image based rendering of materials
  • Weathering and distressing

Specific materials

  • Skin and hair
  • Food


  • Class participation
  • Students write a 15-20-page paper on one of the topics listed below Students are expected to do further background reading in their chosen topic area.
    • Surface reflectance
    • Stereo vision
    • Textural analysis and synthesis
    • Perception and specularity
    • Digital image construction
    • The effect of contour closure on the rapid discrimination of two-dimensional shapes
    • What does the occluding contour tell us about solid shapes?
    • Constructing visual perception
    • Intermediate-level visual representations
    • Construction of surface perception
    • Motion segmentation and tracking