Computer scientist Venu Govindaraju elected SPIE fellow

Recognized for his work on document recognition and retrieval, and biometrics

Release Date: June 10, 2013 This content is archived.

Venu Govindaraju.

BUFFALO, N.Y. – The accolades for University at Buffalo researcher Venu Govindaraju keep coming.

Govindaraju, PhD, SUNY Distinguished Professor of Computer Science and Engineering, has been elected a fellow of SPIE, an international society for optics and photonics. The society cited his research in document recognition and retrieval, and biometrics, for the honor.

It lauded Govindaraju’s work that enabled machines to recognize and understand handwriting. “His seminal work in handwriting recognition was at the core of the first handwritten address interpretation system” used by the U.S. Postal Service, according to a SPIE statement.

Developed in the 1990s, the system has helped the Postal Service save billions of dollars. Postal services in the United Kingdom and Australia also use the technology.

Govindaraju, director of UB’s Center for Unified Biometrics and Sensors (CUBS), is currently developing language-independent handwriting recognition technologies. The research is funded by a $3.2 million, five-year grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency via Raytheon BBN Technologies. It is one of the largest competitive, non-infrastructure federal awards at UB.

He is also working on variants of the technology to improve Internet security, the processing of historical documents for digital library applications and for online handwriting recognition to process stylus or finger input on smartphones, tablets and other touch-input devices.

The society also praised the “significant contributions” that Govindaraju has made in biometrics, which involves identifying people by fingerprints, hand geometry, face and facial expression, iris scans and other characteristics. His dissertation on face recognition was one of the earliest forays in this area of biometrics.

The society noted that Govindaraju has co-authored more than 370 scientific papers and has been the principal investigator or co-principal investigator on more than $60 million in research funding. He has supervised the dissertations of 27 doctoral students.

Govindaraju is one 69 people to be named a SPIE fellow this year and one of roughly 1,000 members worldwide.

The society, a nonprofit organization founded in 1955, was originally called the Society of Photographic Instrumentation Engineers. With roughly 17,000 members, it offers conferences, continuing education, books, journals and a digital library in support of interdisciplinary information exchange, professional growth and patent precedent. It provided $3.3 million in support of education and outreach programs in 2012.

The honor for Govindaraju is the latest in series that includes being named a fellow of the:

  • American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
  • Association for Computing Machinery (ACM)
  • Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE)
  • International Association of Pattern Recognition (IAPR)
  • Institute of Electronics and Telecommunication Engineers (IETE).

Govindaraju belongs to a select group of computer scientists who have been named fellows at the ACM and IEEE. It signifies the recognition by Govindaraju’s peers of his contributions to both the science and engineering areas of computing.

Among the awards he has received are the IEEE’s Technical Achievement Award in 2010 and the MIT Global Indus Technovator Award in 2004.

A graduate of the Indian Institute of Technology in Kharagpur, India, Govindaraju received a master’s and doctoral degree in computer science from UB.

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