Professor Oliver (Ollie) Cossairt


Lisa Wissner-Slivka and Benjamin Slivka
Junior Professor of Computer Science
Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
Nortwestern University
Ford Design Center
2133 Sheridan Road
Evanston IL 60208

Office: 3-337
Telephone: 847-491-0895
Cell: 646-620-6400
Email: ollie AT
I am an Assistant Professor in the EECS Department at Northwestern University. My research interests lie at the intersection of optics, computer vision, and computer graphics. Before  joining Northwestern, I spent one year (Oct. 2011 - Aug. 2012) as a Postdoctoral Researcher at Columbia University, under the supervision of Professor Prof. Shree Nayar. I earned my Ph.D. in Computer Science from Columbia University. In September 2011, I completed my dissertation on The Limits and Tradeoffs in Computational Imaging. From September 2006-2011, I was a doctoral candidate at Columbia University under the advisement Prof. Shree Nayar and Prof. Peter Belhumeur. I received an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship from 2008-2011. From 2003-2006, I worked as an Optical and Software Engineer, managing a NIST ATP research initiative to develop next generation 3D displays for a Actuality Systems. In 2003, I recieved an M.S. from the MIT Media Lab, where I worked with the Spatial Imaging Group and wrote my thesis on View-Sequential 3D Displays.

Research Interests

My research is in the emerging field of computational imaging, which combines expertise in optics, image processing, computer vision, and computer graphics. I design, model and build systems that combine sensors, displays, and novel optical elements. These cameras have applications in medical, astronomical, and scientific imaging. I am building a new breed of cameras with increased functionality and performance. I believe that my research will impact the way cameras are built in coming decades, from low-end consumer cameras to high-end scientific instruments.

I am fascinated with the idea that cameras can be very finely tuned towards specific purposes, and that doing so can be an excellent way to capture specific visual information. We can place the camera at the center of a larger visual processing system whose purpose is to analyze and interpret visual information. As such, the camera cannot be designed without keeping the entire system in mind.

I am particularly interested in developing imaging and display systems that combine a creative use of optical devices and sensor technology to enable new functionality in cameras and displays. My research is focused in the following areas:
  • Computational Imaging for leveraging novel optical designs and image processing together to enable new capabilities in conventional cameras, such as extended depth-of-field, digital refocusing, super-resolution, and measuring high dimensional appearance.
  • Computer Vision for measuring depth or spectral characteristics that inform a higher-level understanding about a scene, such as geometry or material properties.
  • Computational Displays for displaying images with an unprecedented sense of realism by allowing viewers to observe the appearance of objects in a natural and intuitive manner.

Invited Talks

  • "When Does Computational Imaging Improve Performance?," 
    Integral Imaging Lecture Series, Purdue University, West Lafeyette IN, Sep 2014.
  • "When Does Computational Imaging Improve Performance?," 
    Sarnoff Research Center, IEEE meeting chapter, Princeton NJ, Oct 2013.
  • "When Does Computational Imaging Improve Performance?," 
    Futurewei Technologies, Santa Clara CA, Oct 2013.
  • "Performance Bounds for Computational Imaging,"
    Computational Optical Sensing and Imaging Conference, June 2013.
  • "When Does Computational Imaging Improve Performance?," 
    CVPR Workshop on Computational Cameras and Displays, June 2013.
  • "Performance Limits for Computational Photography,"
    Fringe Conference, September 2013.



  • "Towards Flexible Sheet Cameras", Office of Naval Resrearch, with Shree Nayar, 2014.
  • "Development of Snapshot 3D Holographic Microscope for Live Cell Imaging", Chicago Biomedical Consortium Catalyst Grant, Partnership with Scherer Lab at UofC, 2014.
  • "Enhanced Dynamic Range Proteomic Analysis: Phase II", National Institutes of Health SBIR, sub-contract with Resonon Inc., 2014.
  • "Surface Shape Studies of Gauguin's Monotypes: Accuracy and Suitability of Reflectance Transformation Imaging", Northwestern University NU-ACCESS Exploratory Grant, 2014.
  • "Theoretical simulation and study of performance tradeoffs and bounds in computational diffractive sensors and imagers", Rambus Inc. 2014.
  • "Coherent Reflectance Imaging (CRI): A new techniques for quantitative ultra wide-field surface shape metrology," McCormick Catalyst Research Award, with Marc Walton of NU-ACCESS, 2014.
  • "Small Worlds Lab", Department of Energy, Sub-contract with Agronne National Labs, 2014.
  • "Multispectral Imaging and RGB Light Field Capture using ChromoFocal Plenoptic Cameras", (PI) Oliver Cossairt, (Co-PI) Jack Tumblin, Samsung GRO 2013.
  • "Unrestricted Gift", Omron Corporation, 2013.


Recent Research

Dictionary Learning Based Color Demosaicing of Plenoptic Cameras
[project page] [pdf]

with Xiang Huang, CCD 2014.

Can we beat Hadamard Multiplexing? Data-driven design and analysis of Computational Imaging
[project page] [pdf]

with Kaushik Mitra and Ashok Veeraraghavan, ICCP 2014.

Digital Refocusing with Incoherent Holography
[project page] [pdf]

with Nathan Matsuda and Mohit Gupta, IEEE ICCP 2014.

Focal sweep Videography with Deformable Optics
[project page] [pdf]

with Daniel Miau and Shree Nayar, ICCP 2013.

A Framework for Analysis of Computational Imaging Systems
[project page] [pdf]

with Kaushik Mitra and Ashok Veeraraghavan, COSI 2013, FRINGE 2013, SPIE 2014, PAMI 2014.
scaling.jpg When Does Computational Imaging Improve Performance?
[project page] [pdf]

with Mohit Gupta and Shree Nayar, in IEEE Transaction on Image Processing, Aug 2012.
scaling.jpg Tradeoffs and Limits in Computational Imaging

PhD Thesis, Department of Computer Science, Columbia University, Sep. 2011
A Scaling Law for Computational Imaging with Spherical Optics
[project page] [pdf]

with Daniel Miau and Shree Nayar, in JOSA,  Nov. 2011.

foo Gigapixel Computational Imaging 
[project page] [pdf]

with Daniel Miau and Shree Nayar, IEEE ICCP 2011.

Draw the curtains: Gigapixel images create highly revealing snapshots,
Scientific American article (Jan 6, 2011),

foo Spectral Focal Sweep
[project page] [pdf] [supplementary images]

with Shree Nayar, IEEE ICCP 2010.

ICCP 2010 Best Paper Award

foo Diffusion Coded Photography for Extended Depth of Field
[project page] [pdf] [supplementary images] [derivations]

with Changyin Zhou and Shree Nayar, SIGGRAPH 2010.

foo Depth from Diffusion
[project page] [pdf]

with Changyin Zhou and Shree Nayar, CVPR 2010 (Oral Paper).

foo Light Field Transfer
[project page] [pdf]

with Shree Nayar and Ravi Ramamoorthi, SIGGRAPH 2008.

Previous Research

foo Occlusion Capable Volumetric 3D Display
[project page] [pdf]

with J. Napoli, S.L. Hill, R.K. Dorval, G.E. Favalora, Applied Optics 2007.

3D Display Design
[project page]

3D Displays I designed as an engineer and manager for a NIST ATP research initiative developing next generation 3D displays. Actuality System 2003-06.

foo View Sequential Displays
[project page] [pdf]

Master's Thesis, MIT Media Lab, 2003


Imaging, Graphics and Vision

3D Displays

Awards and Honors

  • Honorable Mention, "Digital Refocusing with Incoherent Holography", ICCP 2014.
  • Best Paper Award, "Spectral Focal Sweep: Extended Depth of Field from Chromatic Aberrations", ICCP 2011.
  • National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow, Sep. 2008 through Sep. 2011. 


  • Associate Editor: IEEE Transactions on Computational Imaging, 2014-.
  • Posters and Demos Chair: IEEE International Conference on Computational Photography, 2013-2015.
  • Program Organizer: CVPR Workshop for Computational Cameras and Displays, 2014-2015.
  • Program Organizer: Workshop on Computational Photography and Intelligent Cameras, 2015.
  • Program Organizer: ACCV Workshop on Image Restoration and Enhancement, 2014.
  • Review Panel: NSF SBIR/STTIR Phase 1: Photonic/Optical Systems, 2015.
  • Review Panel: NSF SBIR/STTIR Phase 1: Photonic/Optical Systems, 2013.
  • Program Committee: International Conference on Image Processing, 2015.
  • Program Committee: IEEE International Conference on Computational Photography, 2013-2015.
  • Program Committee: IEEE Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition, 2013-2015.
  • Program Committee: CVPR Workshop for Computational Cameras and Displays, 2012-2014.
  • Program Committee: Asian Conference on Computer Vision (ACCV), 2014.
  • Program Committee: GCPR Workshop on Imaging New Modalities, 2013. 
  • Program Committee: Asian Conference on Computer Vision, 2012.
  • Reviewer: SIGGRAPH, SIGGRAPH ASIA, Transactions on Graphics (TOG), NIPS, EuroGraphics Symposium on Rendering (EGSR), Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence (PAMI), International Journal of Computer Vision (IJCV), Applied Optics, Optics Express.




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