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March 14, 2005

Engineering professor leads an emerging research front

By Tim Stephens

Peyman Milanfar, an associate professor of electrical engineering, coauthored a paper in 2001 that represents an emerging research front in the field of engineering, according to an analysis by Thomson ISI, a Philadelphia-based company that specializes in analyzing scientific literature.

Photo: Peyman Milanfar

Peyman Milanfar

Photo: Sina Farsiu

The paper described a new technique for producing a high-resolution image from a set of low-resolution images (see earlier Currents story.)

Since its publication, the paper has been cited by other researchers across multiple disciplines so frequently that it stood out in an ISI analysis designed to identify emerging research fronts in different fields.

An interview with Milanfar discussing the paper and its significance can be found on the ISI web site. The ISI web site also provides a detailed description of the methodology the company uses to identify emerging research fronts. The basic concept is described as follows:

"Research areas in science, particularly those at the cutting edge of their fields, are characterized by patterns of intense communication between scientists. This communication manifests itself in various ways, both formally and informally, but prominent among these are citations from one scientist's work to another.

Patterns of citation reflect a fine-grained selection process of how scientists build on each other's work, and the relationship of these works to one another. Such patterns can be used to create a picture of the state of a specific research area in terms of the papers that constitute its core of seminal work."

Milanfar's coauthors on the paper were Nhat Nguyen, then at KLA Tencor, and Gene Golub of Stanford University. Milanfar said that since 2001, he and his students and collaborators have improved on the methods described in the original paper, and interest in the subject has grown to the point where special conferences are now held for researchers in this area.

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