Revenge of the nerds

We recently had a colloquium presentation from about using genetic algorithms to find efficient and robust ways to encode and decode images, particularly those transmitted in a noisy environment.   As the colloquium organizer, part of my job is to advertise such colloquia, and part of that job is to make fliers.   To jazz up a flier, I usually try to find an image relating to the talk, and after a several Google image searches for “wavelets” and “compression” and “noisy,” I was surprised to find this image of an insanely hot babe in a funny hat pop up over and over again:

I made a quick check to see if I hadn’t accidentally set my Google search option to “Suggestive images I’m liable to get fired for,” but over and over again this pic turned up.   Eventually I settled for a collection of images of the rings of Saturn under different resolutions, and chalked this up to general web-based weirdness.

However, at the colloquium itself, the speaker gave his outline, mentioned wavelets and their use in compressing the information of an image, and then showed an example using exactly this picture.   The speaker — who was actually interviewing for an open CS position at Komplexify U — stated that this picture is called the Lena Image in the image processing field, where it is apparently ubiquitous.

The candidate went on to to say that, in reality, the image is the top 512 x 512 pixels of Playboy’s Swedish centerfold from November 1972, Lena Sjooblom.   According to an article in the May 2001 Newsletter of the IEEE Professional Communications Society:

The original 512 x 512 digitized image is still at the USC SIPI Image Database.

There are a few things about all of this I find particularly noteworthy.

  1. An encyclopedic knowledge of Playboy centerfolds is probably not the best skill set to demonstrate during a job interview.
  2. SIPI sounds like an awesome place to work.
  3. Image processing people are pervs.

Postscript. I told this story to the Queen B when I arrived home after work.   She patiently listened to the details before making a dismissive shrug.   “It figures,” she said.

“How?” I asked.

“It’s just like what Lewis says in Revenge of the Nerds: Jocks only think about sports, but nerds only think about sex.”

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