William A. Pearlman

Director, Center for Image Processing Research
Professor, Electrical, Computer and Systems Engineering Department
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Troy, NY 12180-3590
Tel: 518-276-6082
Fax: 518-276-8715
E-mail: pearlw@ecse.rpi.edu


William Pearlman received the S.B. and S.M. degrees in electrical engineering from M.I.T. in 1963 and the Ph.D degree in electrical engineering from Stanford University in 1974. Between 1963 and 1974 he was employed as an engineer and consultant by Lockheed Missiles and Space Company in Sunnyvale, CA, and as an engineer by GTE-Sylvania in Mountain View, CA. He left industry in 1974 to become Assistant Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Since 1979 Dr. Pearlman has been with the ECSE Department at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute where he is currently Professor and Director of the Center for Image Processing Research (CIPR). During the 1985-1986 academic year, and again for the spring semester in 1993, he was on sabbatical leave as Visiting Professor and Lady Davis Scholar in the Department of Electrical Engineering at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel. He also held a Visiting Professor Chair at Delft University of Technology in Delft, the Netherlands in 1993, and has been an IBM Visiting Scientist in the IBM-Rio Scientific Center in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1988. During the Summer of 2001, he was in residence as Visiting Professor at the University of Hannover in Hannover, Germany. His research interests are in information theory, source coding theory, image, video and audio coding, and image processing. He has authored or co-authored more than 100 publications in these fields. He has taught courses in probability and random processes, digital signal processing, communication systems, digital communications, information theory, image coding, data compression, and detection and estimation theory.

Dr. Pearlman is a Fellow of the IEEE and a Fellow of SPIE. He has served on the steering committee of SPIE's Visual Communications and Image Processing Conference since its inception in 1986, and in 1989 was the conference chairman. He has also served on technical program committees of several IEEE conferences and several proposal review panels for the National Scince Foundation. He was a past Associate Editor of Coding for the IEEE Transactions on Image Processing. He has been an active delegate to the ISO/JPEG2000 Working Group charged to set a new international standard for still image compression. He received the IEEE Circuits and Systems Society 1998 Video Transactions Best Paper Award and the IEEE Signal Processing Society 1998 Best Paper Award in the Area of Multidimensional Signal and Image Processing. On 27 June, 2001, he was awarded a prize from the Robert Bosch Foundation for distinguished contributions to the field of picture coding. Dr. Pearlman is also engaged as Chief Technical Officer of PrimaComp, Inc., a small company that markets software for image and video compression.

Dr. Pearlman is perhaps best known as co-inventor of two celebrated image compression algorithms: Set Partitioning in Hierarchical Trees (SPIHT) with Amir Said ; and Set Partitioning Embeddeded bloCK (SPECK) coder with Asad Islam. For coding examples using these algorithms, the following links are provided:

  • Example of SPIHT and EZW
  • Example of SPECK


  • "The Art and Practice of Modern Image Compression", Keynote Address, Visual Communications and Image Processing 2001, SPIE/IS&T Photonics West - Electronic Imaging, San Jose, CA, Jan. 26, 2001.
  • Picture Coding Seminar at University of Hannover, Summer 2001.
  • "Error Resilient Compression and Transmission of Scalable Video", presented at Free University of Brussels (VUB), Brussels, Belgium on June 29, 2001.
  • Presentation at SPIE 2002 Annual Meeting (PPT),
  • SPIHT AVI file
  • MPEG AVI file
  • Original AVI file

    Research Interests

    Selected Publications

    Lossless and Lossy Image Compression

    Research Interests

    Video Compression

    Research Interests

    Three-Dimensional Image Compression

    Research Interests

    Audio and Biological Signal Compression

    Research Interests

    Information Theory, Quantization and Rate-Distortion Theory

    Research Interests

    Filter and Filter Bank Design, Image Processing

    Security and Watermarking

    Research Interests

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    W. A. Pearlman: Publications