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Alumnus Wu Wins ACM SIGMM Outstanding PhD Thesis Award

4/18/2013 7:09:00 AM

University of Illinois computer science alumnus Wanmin Wu (PhD 2011) has been named as the winner of the ACM SIGMM Award for Outstanding PhD Thesis in Multimedia Computing, Communications, and Applications, which will be presented at the upcoming ACM International Conference on Multimedia.  The award honors Dr. Wu’s PhD thesis, entitled “Human-Centric Control of Video Functions and Underlying Resources in 3D Tele-Immersive Systems.”

Illinois computer science alumnus Wanmin Wu, winner of the ACM SIGMM Outstanding PhD Thesis Award for 2012
Illinois computer science alumnus Wanmin Wu, winner of the ACM SIGMM Outstanding PhD Thesis Award for 2012

Dr. Wu’s dissertation, advised by Ralph M. and Catherine V. Fisher Professor Klara Nahrstedt, proposes a novel, comprehensive, and human-centric framework for improving the quality of 3D tele-immersive environments.  3D tele-immersion takes place when two or more individuals at geographically separated sites collaborate in a 3D virtual world.  Uses include richer communications, improved emergency first-response, enhanced education, as well as sports and entertainment applications.  However, modeling and managing the large video and audio data streams generated by these systems presents a challenge in making this technology more widely available.  By developing a theoretical frame work for modeling and measuring a user’s Quality-of-Experience (QoE) and correlating it with the system’s Quality-of-Service (QoS), Dr. Wu’s work allows researchers to take a more user-centric approach when designing these environments.  In fact, using her new framework, Wu was able to identify methods to reduce system overhead without negatively affecting the QoE. 

The selection committee discussed the innovations and possible long-term impact of Dr. Wu’s thesis:

a) Identifying and incorporating human psycho-physical factors along with traditional QoS to improve experience;
b) Proposing new methods and theory for QoS in interactive multi-camera environments that have served as a catalyst for enabling work in distributed education, medicine and conferencing;
c) The development of new methods for video coding, incorporating understanding of users psycho-physical understanding of color and depth.

These new methods have significantly reduced the impact of sharing tele-immersive information and are likely to have a longer-term benefit that is similar to that of selective audio encoding.

After completing her PhD, Dr. Wu joined the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology at the University of California at San Diego.  Wu’s current research is on using mobile technologies for improving physical activities and reducing sedentary behavior. She is jointly funded by the National Institute of Health and the National Cancer Institute. This interdisciplinary research effort brings together scientists from public health, computer science, and engineering to create effective and engaging tools for behavior pattern recognition and intervention.

The ACM Special Interest Group on Multimedia (SIGMM) provides a forum for researchers, engineers, and practitioners in all aspects of multimedia computing, communication, storage, and applications.  Presented annually, the ACM SIGMM Award for Outstanding PhD Thesis recognizes a researcher “whose PhD thesis has the potential of very high impact in multimedia computing, communications and applications, or gives direct evidence of such impact.”  The recipient receives a $500 honorarium, plus travel expenses to attend the ACM International Conference on Multimedia.