10 June 2011
Professor Maja Pantic, Department of Computing, Imperial College London, and Dr Hermann Hauser, the co-founder of Acorn Computers, have been named as recipients of the BCS Roger Needham Award and Lovelace Medal respectively.
The Roger Needham award is sponsored by Microsoft Research Cambridge and established in memory of Microsoft’s first director of research outside the US. It is awarded for a distinguished research contribution in computer science by a UK based researcher within ten years of their PhD.
Professor Pantic’s research is concerned with the machine analysis of human behaviour which is important to both basic and applied research in many areas including psychology, biomedicine, law, security, and computing applications (human-computer interaction, virtual reality, low-bandwidth communication for video-conference).
A critical issue in machine analysis of human behaviour is that human face, body, and vocalisations exhibit complex and rich dynamic behaviour that is all nonlinear, time varying, and context dependent. Professor Pantic has done pioneering work in this field and has addressed some of the critical research challenges.
Professor Pantic’s work transformed the state of the art in automatic facial behaviour. Her work on feature-based approaches to facial expression recognition improved several aspects of facial expression recognition from video, including the accuracy and robustness of facial feature detection and tracking, the accuracy of facial muscle action (AU) detection, and was the first to report on automatic recognition of temporal phases of facial actions.
She has developed the first web-based publicly available facial expression database, the MMI database (with about 1200 users worldwide), that is arguably the leading test-bed for facial expression algorithm development and testing. She was also the first to investigate temporal segmentation of facial actions in non- frontal face images. Her more recent work continuing this line of research proposes facial expression analysis using dynamic texture features and represents the first appearance-based approach to machine coding of facial expression dynamics.
Professor Pantic is also a pioneer in research on multimodal behaviour analysis including vocal outbursts analysis (e.g., laughter), continuous affect analysis (e.g. in terms of valance and arousal), and social signal processing. Her works on these topics are currently standard references in the field of machine analysis of human behaviour.
Andrew Blake, Managing Director of Microsoft Research Cambridge says: ‘Professor Pantic is a very deserving winner of this year’s BCS Needham Award. She is a pioneering researcher who has contributed immensely to the advancement of computational approaches to the understanding of human behaviour. Her pioneering work on what has become known as affective computing is helping to lay the foundations for a kind of computer that is far more responsive to the humans that use them.’
The BCS Lovelace Medal was established in 1998 in honour of Lady Augusta Ada Byron, Countess of Lovelace and daughter of Lord Byron. The Medal is presented annually to individuals who, in the opinion of BCS, have made a significant contribution to the advancement of Information Systems.
Hermann Hauser is widely known as an entrepreneur and primarily associated with Silicon Fen. In 1978 he co-founded Acorn Computers, leading the development team towards the production of the BBC Micro Computer.
His vast experience includes developing and financing companies in the information technology sector having founded and invested in over 25 technology companies in the UK and US including ARM, E*Trade UK, Cambridge Display Technology, Virata, etc.
Currently, Hauser is funding a new building at Cambridge University, the Hauser Forum, which will accommodate the Cambridge Entrepreneurship Centre and will be ‘a stepping stone between Cambridge research and business’.
David Clarke, MBE, Chief Executive Officer, BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, says: ‘I am delighted that we are awarding Hermann Hauser with the Lovelace Medal. He is a rather special kind of entrepreneur in the context of Information Systems Engineering. He is a role model par excellence in a world that takes it for granted that venture capital and innovation go hand-in-hand.
Hermann has arguably done more than any individual in the UK to establish and support companies providing much of the contemporary innovation in the professional sector of the BCS. His achievements have been recognised in UK academic, profession and Government circles.’
Ian Horrocks, Chair of Awards Committee, BCS, Academy of Computing, concludes: ‘Maja Pantic and Hermann Hauser are both very worth winners: Maja is conducting exciting and ground breaking research aimed at making computers understand human expressions and gestures, something that could revolutionise the way we interact with computers; Hermann has made a unique contribution to the transformation of computers.’