Govindaraju receives international career honor for research contributions

Venu Govindaraju received the IAPR/ICDAR Outstanding Achievements Award from the International Conference on Document Analysis and Recognition (ICDAR).

by Michael Andrei

Published June 18, 2015

Venu Govindaraju, a globally recognized expert in machine learning and pattern recognition, has received the IAPR/ICDAR Outstanding Achievements Award from the International Conference on Document Analysis and Recognition (ICDAR).  

“Venu is one of UB’s most accomplished faculty members, who is having tremendous impact on his field and on our university’s research enterprise”
Charles F. Zukoski, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs

The award, presented by the International Association for Pattern Recognition (IAPR), recognizes individuals who have made exceptional contributions to the field of document analysis and recognition in the areas of research, student training, industry interaction and service to the profession.

The citation for the award recognizes Govindaraju for his pioneering contributions to pattern recognition and its application to the fields of handwriting recognition, multilingual document analysis and biometrics, and for the development of real-time engineered systems.

Govindaraju, interim vice president for research and economic development, and SUNY Distinguished Professor of Computer Science and Engineering, will accept the award at ICDAR 2015, being held Aug. 23-26 in Gammarth, Tunisia.

“Venu is one of UB’s most accomplished faculty members, who is having tremendous impact on his field and on our university’s research enterprise,” says Charles F. Zukoski, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. “We are immensely proud of his success and congratulate him on this well-deserved, international recognition.”

Govindaraju’s research has focused on the application of machine learning and pattern-recognition techniques to many application domains. He has designed several algorithms for cursive handwriting recognition suitable for real-time applications. His work in multilingual recognition systems ranges from the development of Devanagari optical character recognition (OCR) resources under the National Science Foundation’s Digital Libraries initiative, to innovative recognition strategies for Arabic OCR for the U.S. Department of Defense. He was among the first to explore human-like handwriting for designing CAPTCHAs to exploit the differential in handwriting-reading proficiency between humans and machines.

He is also well known for his work in the development of real-time engineered systems. His seminal work in handwriting recognition was one of the key elements of the first, field-deployable, real-time system for reading handwritten addresses on mail-pieces. The system developed by Govindaraju and his colleagues at UB resulted in annual savings of hundreds of millions of dollars for the U.S. Postal Service.

In the biometrics area, he has innovated new techniques to address a variety of problems in the recognition of fingerprints, faces, facial expressions and multi-biometric fusion. He is the founding director of UB’s Center for Unified Biometrics and Sensors (CUBS) and has spearheaded the establishment of a National Science Foundation Center for Identification Technology Research (CITeR) at UB.

But it is the success of Govindaraju’s students that, in many ways, is his greatest source of pride and which he attributes in large measure to the contributions that led to the ICDAR award.

Govindaraju’s expertise has attracted talented and hardworking students worldwide to UB and has provided them with the opportunity to work on cutting-edge research projects in document recognition, language technologies and biometrics.  Through Govindaraju’s dedicated mentorship, 30 UB students have earned doctoral degrees, a remarkable record of achievement.   He is currently advising 8 UB doctoral candidates, 5 of whom are expected to graduate in the next 2 years.

During a 23-year career at UB, Govindaraju has earned many peer honors for his groundbreaking work. Among them are the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in 2014, Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) Technical Achievement Award in 2010 and the MIT Global Indus Technovator Award in 2004. He has co-authored about 400 scientific papers and has published 5 edited books.

Govindaraju belongs to a select group of computer scientists who have been named fellows of both the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and the IEEE. The dual fellowships reflect the recognition by Govindaraju’s peers of his contributions to both the science and engineering areas of computing. In addition, he is a fellow of prestigious societies, such as AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science), the IAPR (International Association of Pattern Recognition), and the SPIE (International Society of Optics and Photonics).

Govindaraju is a graduate of the Indian Institute of Technology in Kharagpur, India. He has received master’s and doctoral degrees in computer science from UB.