Computable Minds -

The photo of Lena Söderberg

Posted on: Apr, 29th 2012
Lena Soderberg
A photo has been converted in the standard of reference in the computer sciences. Over this have been applied, from the years 70, a big quantity of algorithms of graphic computing, compression and artificial intelligence.

Lena is a Swedish model that appears, in November of 1972, in a photo of Playboy dressed with only a hat. The photo was scanned by Alexander Sawchuk, he needed a photo of a face to expose a scientific article in a conference. According to Alexander, the magazine was brought by a stranger. By obvious motives, he didn't use the complete photo, only the part of the face. Here you have the photo:

Lena sjooblomDue to that the photo has a good mixture of details, shadows and textures it began to be used, as example, in all scientific papers of digital image processing and compression. Was the first photo to be compressed and sent by the precursor network of Internet (ARPANET) and today still is used.

The Playboy magazine of November 1972, had been converted, in the best-selling of its history with more than seven million of copies.

Curiously, this wasn't the first photo of Playboy used by a scientific to illustrate a processing image algorithm. Lawrence G. Roberts was the first in 1960.

On 1997 Lena was invited to the annual conference of the "Society for Imaging Science and Technology". The scientifics was very happy to meet Lena in person and ask her an autograph. Lena in that moment had 54 years old and was married and with children, and for her was a surprise that his photo had been so used. Next some photos of the event:

Lena Soderberg with 54 years oldLenaLena Soderberg and Jeff Seideman

In this photo you can see her together to Jeff Seideman, a scientific that is working with Playboy to remaster the image from the original negatives to remains it as the reference photo in future works.

The photo appears casually in the film of Woody Allen "Sleeper" of 1973.

On the other hand, the use of this image has received some criticism from some women that they feel annoying the use of it, due to that, according to them, seems that the scientific papers are for the men and distract from the principal subject.

Personally for me doesn't seem a distraction when I studied these topics in the university, because in the photo only appears the face.

Apart of the photo of Lena there are other six photos, also of the same epoch, that are used usually to test image processing algorithms. Here you can download them:

Apart of Lena's photo there are other three photos, also of the same epoch, that are usually used to test algorithms of image processing (the mandrill, the peppers and the cameraman). Here you have it, together Lena, a remastered version of Lena and linked to the original files of each photo in TIFF format, just in case you have arrived here searching images for your scientific papers:

PeppersMandrill babooncameramanLena SjooblomLena Soderberg

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