On Wednesday, I spoke about “From Photographs to Models: the Geometry of Image-Based 3D Reconstruction” as part of the Bay Area Mathematical Adventures (BAMA) series. I felt immensely honored to be asked to speak given the caliber of past speakers. Last night I felt even more honored when I discovered the high caliber of the students I was speaking to.
The BAMA talks are aimed at high school students, but my audience ranged from junior high students (or even younger) to adults. More than 100 people were there, and the students were lively, engaged, curious, and imaginative. They enthusiastically suggested reasons why drawings most of us thought were polygons were not (“that edge isn’t quite straight”, “the chalk sticks out of the board, so it is really a 3D shape”). Before explaining each reconstruction result, I paused to allow the students time to see if they could come up with an algorithm or a counterexample. I could see them thinking hard, and some of them gave remarkably clear impromptu explanations. It was a joy to see them enjoying the topic so much.
I’m impressed by the outreach efforts of the organizers, Tatiana Shubin and Peter Ross, that resulted in such a large and diverse audience. I knew they were sending out lots of flyers, but I didn’t expect to be confronted, as I approached the building, with a huge poster, an enlarged version of the flyer with the biggest picture of me I’d ever seen. Many thanks to Angela Dunnigan who took a great picture and gave me a copy at a high enough resolution that it still looked good at that size!
I’ll post slides in a day or two, with a link in the comments section, so look for it there. In the meantime, enjoy the four cartoons I used in my talk (and one bonus one I almost used), all drawn by my friend Tom Canel.
Speaking to this group last night was a pleasure and a privilege. I hope it will be the beginning of greater involvement in educational outreach on my part (and of others who read this blog).