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For his EXCEL work this summer, Myat Lin ’04 of Yangon, Myanmar is tackling a project involving the intersection of three disciplines: engineering, biology, and mathematics. Assisting Robert Root, associate professor of mathematics, Lin is working on image processing and data analysis from video of swimming fish.

According to Root, the project is challenging for a variety of reasons, both practical and intellectual. “We’re trying to mark the outline of swimming fish from high speed video,” he says. “Sometimes it’s easy, but often it’s difficult, because the fish are filmed with poor lighting.”

Lin, majoring in electrical and computer engineering, details one of the main challenges. “The outline of the fish, which we want to find, is indistinct in some parts. Also, the fish itself distorts its outline in some images, for instance, by extending its pectoral fins or twisting its trunk,” he says.

In addition to the practical challenges, the work is many layered. “It is an engineering problem that arises in the course of biological experiments, but the resulting data is an essential tool for examining the quality of mathematical models of fish,” says Root. He adds, “Myat is a very impressive student with great math skills who shows stunning independence. This project offers him some great insights as an engineer.”

As part of the project, Root and Lin are fine tuning a computer program to assist in their research.

“Professor Root is helping me develop a computer package designed to take the points on a curve that match the outline of a fish. We chose mathematics as the programming language for the package,” says Lin.

He adds, “I am particularly interested in writing computer programs and am willing to learn about digital image processing. I decided to do this EXCEL project, because it suits my interests very well. The project is really rewarding for me, because I can learn how to apply some image processing techniques as well as how to write programs in mathematics.”

Root feels the interdisciplinary nature of the project offers Lin a rewarding experience that extends beyond routine classroom study. As Lin states, “Digital image processing is closely related to the signal processing in electrical engineering. I hope that this project will help me in my further studies in electrical and computer engineering as well as my
future career as an engineer.”

He adds, “It is really a great opportunity to work closely with a faculty member on a research project like this one. I believe this kind of opportunity is not very common in small colleges, but this is not the case with Lafayette.”

Myat Tun Lin earned third place in the spring ’01 Team Barge competition and honorable mention in the 2001 (Individual) Barge Contest.

Categorized in: Academic News