Freshman Seminar: Visual Intelligence

Course Syllabus, Spring 2004

COURSE: Seminar I 1

PROFESSOR: Don Hoffman SECRETARY: Justine Sarashid


 This seminar is a highly illustrated and accessible introduction to visual intelligence, informed by the latest breakthroughs in vision research. Perhaps the most surprising insight that has emerged from vision research is this: Vision is not merely a matter of passive perception, it is an intelligent process of active construction. What you see is, invariably, what your visual intelligence constructs. Just as scientists intelligently construct useful theories based on experimental evidence, so your visual system intelligently constructs useful visual worlds based on images at the eyes. The main difference is that the constructions of scientists are done consciously, but those of your visual intelligence are done, for the most part, unconsciously.


Seminars 2 through 9 will each be led by one or two students. Your grade will be based on three measures: (1) Your oral presentation, (2) your participation in discussions, and (3) a final exam. I discuss each briefly. (1) Your grade for the oral presentation will be based on how well you master the material you present, how clearly you present its essence, and how penetratingly you critique its strengths and weaknesses. (2) You are, of course, expected to have read whatever material is the subject for discussion in each session, whether or not you are the primary presenter. Come prepared with questions for the discussion leader, critiques of the material, and general comments. To make sure that we all read the material, at the beginning of each class we will put all our names in a hat and draw one out at random. The person whose name is drawn will open the class with a five minute summary of the material for that day. (3) The final will be a 25-question multiple-choice exam. It will cover the book Visual Intelligence. The final will count for half of your grade. Your oral presentation will count for 40%, and your participation in discussions 10%.


Meeting. Date: Topic

1. W 4/7: Introduction

2. W 4/14: Visual Intelligence - Chapter 1

3. W 4/21: Visual Intelligence - Chapter 2

4. W 4/28: Visual Intelligence - Chapter 3

5. W 5/5: Visual Intelligence - Chapter 4

6. W 5/12: Visual Intelligence - Chapter 5

7. W 5/19: Visual Intelligence - Chapter 6

8. W 5/26: Visual Intelligence - Chapter 7

9. W 6/2: Visual Intelligence - Chapter 8

10. W 6/9: Conclusions and Applications

--- F 6/18, 1:30 - 3:30 p.m.,  FINAL

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