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Shree K. Nayar

Shree K. Nayar
Alma materBirla Institute of Technology, Mesra
North Carolina State University, Raleigh
Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh
Known forComputational Cameras
Physics Based Computer Vision
Oren–Nayar Reflectance Model
Bigshot Camera for Education
RelativesPattom A. Thanu Pillai (grandfather)[1]
AwardsDavid Marr Prize
Columbia Great Teacher Award
National Academy of Engineering
American Academy of Arts and Sciences
Scientific career
FieldsComputational imaging, computer vision, computer graphics, robotics, human-computer interactions
InstitutionsColumbia University
Academic advisorsKatsushi Ikeuchi
Takeo Kanade

Shree K. Nayar is an engineer and computer scientist known for his contributions to the fields of computer vision, computational imaging, and computer graphics. He is the T. C. Chang Professor of Computer Science in the School of Engineering at Columbia University.[2] Nayar co-directs the Columbia Vision and Graphics Center and is the head of the Computer Vision Laboratory (CAVE),[3] which develops advanced imaging and computer vision systems.[4] Nayar also served as a director of research at Snap Inc. He was elected member of the US National Academy of Engineering in 2008 and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2011 for his pioneering work on computational cameras and physics based computer vision.

Early life

Shree K. Nayar was born in Bangalore to Malayali parents from Travancore. He is the grandson of former Chief Minister of Kerala, Pattom A. Thanu Pillai.[5]

Education and career

Nayar received a B.E. in electrical engineering from Birla Institute of Technology in Mesra, in 1984,[6] and an M.S. in electrical and computer engineering from North Carolina State University in Raleigh in 1986.[7] He received a Ph.D. in electrical and computer engineering from The Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh in 1991.

Nayar worked as a research engineer for Taylor Instruments in New Delhi in 1984. From 1986 to 1990 he was a graduate research assistant at The Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. In the summer of 1989, he was a visiting researcher at Hitachi Ltd. in Yokohama, Japan. He joined the faculty of the Computer Science Department at Columbia University in 1991, and in 2009 he became chair of the department. Nayar also served as a director of research at Snap Inc.


Nayar's research is in the field of computational imaging[2] and computer vision and focuses on the creation of novel cameras, physics based models for vision and graphics, and algorithms for image understanding.[3][8][9][10][11][12] His work is motivated by applications in the fields of machine vision, digital imaging, computer graphics, robotics, and human-computer interactions. Nayar developed the concept of computational cameras[2] and is a leading researcher in the field of computational imaging and computer vision. The field of computational photography is organized according to a taxonomy proposed by him.[13]

Nayar's inventions include cameras that can capture 360 degree,[12] high dynamic range,[11] and three-dimensional images. He demonstrated the concept of a self-powered camera that can produce video using power harvested by the light captured by the camera without requiring an external power source.[14][15][16] His method of using assorted pixels for single-shot high dynamic range imaging[17] has been incorporated into image sensors that are currently being used by cameras in smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices.  In 2017, Popular Photography published a profile of Nayar that describes his impact on digital imaging and smartphone cameras.[18]

Nayar developed the Oren–Nayar Reflectance Model in collaboration with Michael Oren in 1994, which is widely used in commercial graphics rendering packages. In 2009, he created the Bigshot Camera, a kid-friendly digital camera designed for experiential learning.[19][20][21] Workshops and programs designed around the Bigshot camera have been used to educate middle school students around the world, in particular in underserved communities. As of August 2021, he has published over 300 scientific publications, holds over 80 patents on inventions related to imaging, computer vision and robotics, his publications have been cited close to 60,000 times, and he has an h-index of 129.[22] In March 2021, Nayar made publicly available a lecture series titled First Principles of Computer Vision.[23]


Nayar has received several best paper awards for his scientific publications, including the David Marr Prize in 1990 and 1995, and the Helmholtz Prize in 2019. Early in his career, he received the National Young Investigator Award from the National Science Foundation in 1991 and the Packard Fellowship from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation in 1992. For the impact of his research, he has been honored with the NTT Distinguished Scientific Achievement Award from NTT Corporation in 1994, the Appreciation Honor from Sony Corporation in 2014, the 2016 Invention Award[16] from Popular Science magazine, the PAMI Distinguished Award[24] from IEEE in 2019, and the Funai Achievement Award[25] from the Information Processing Society of Japan in 2021. He has been recognized for his talents as a teacher with the Keck Engineering Teaching Excellence Award from the W. M. Keck Foundation in 1995, the Columbia Great Teacher Award[26] from the Society of Columbia Graduates[27] in 2006, and the Distinguished Faculty Teaching Award from the Columbia Engineering Alumni Association in 2015. He received the Alumni Achievement Award from Carnegie Mellon University in 2009 and the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Birla Institute of Technology, Mesra, in 2021. For his pioneering research contributions and inventions in the fields of computational imaging and computer vision, he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering[28] in 2008, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2011, and the National Academy of Inventors in 2014.


  1. ^ "Columbia's Shree Nayar awarded Okawa Prize for contributions to digital photography". Onmanorama. Retrieved 2024-05-03.
  2. ^ a b c "Computational Imaging". Stanford University: Broad Area Colloquium. 2001. Retrieved 2021-08-28.
  3. ^ a b "CAVE | Computer Vision Laboratory". Retrieved 2021-08-28.
  4. ^ "Shree K. Nayar | Short Biography". Retrieved 2013-04-08.
  5. ^ "Columbia's Shree Nayar awarded Okawa Prize for contributions to digital photography". Retrieved 2024-05-03.
  6. ^ "Birla Institute of Technology, Mesra". Retrieved 2021-08-28.
  7. ^ "Shree Nayar • Electrical and Computer Engineering". North Carolina State University. Retrieved 2021-08-28.
  8. ^ Anne Eisenberg (29 July 2004). "WHAT'S NEXT; Fleeting Experience, Mirrored in Your Eyes". The New York Times.
  9. ^ Steven Levy (2004-07-11). "MEET THE EYE CAM - Newsweek and The Daily Beast". Retrieved 2013-04-08.
  10. ^ Reed, Susan E. (31 January 2002). "In the Labs; Equipment Check: Backpack, Goggles . . ". The New York Times.
  11. ^ a b Eisenberg, Anne (7 September 2000). "WHAT'S NEXT; New Image Technology Can Drive Shadows Away". The New York Times.
  12. ^ a b Deutsch, Claudia H. (3 February 1997). "One Camera That Offers Many Views". The New York Times.
  13. ^ "CAVE | Projects: What is a Computational Camera?". Retrieved 2021-08-28.
  14. ^ "'Eternal' camera can take pictures forever". BBC News. 2015-04-17. Retrieved 2021-08-28.
  15. ^ "This Camera Is Powered by Light". Discover Magazine. Retrieved 2021-08-28.
  16. ^ a b "A Self-Powered Camera". Popular Science. 2019-03-18. Retrieved 2021-08-28.
  17. ^ "Sony IMX378: Comprehensive Breakdown of the Google Pixel's Sensor and its Features". xda-developers. 2016-10-12. Retrieved 2021-08-28.
  18. ^ "The Camera Man". Retrieved 2021-08-28.
  19. ^ "Bigshot: Home - Team". Archived from the original on 2012-07-21. Retrieved 2013-04-08.
  20. ^ "BigShot: Snap-together camera introduces kids to tech, and to their world". 2010-01-06. Retrieved 2013-04-08.
  21. ^ "Bigshot Camera: Change Observer". Design Observer. Retrieved 2013-04-08.
  22. ^ "Google Scholar Record of S. Nayar".
  23. ^ "First Principles of Computer Vision - YouTube". Retrieved 2021-08-28.
  24. ^ "Shree Nayar Honored for Pioneering Research in Computer Vision". 2019-10-01. Retrieved 2021-08-28.
  25. ^ Japan, Information Processing Society of. "FUNAI Achievement Award-Information Processing Society of Japan". Retrieved 2021-08-28.
  26. ^ "Great Teacher Award - WikiCU, the Columbia University wiki encyclopedia". Retrieved 2021-08-28.
  27. ^ "Society of Columbia Graduates - WikiCU, the Columbia University wiki encyclopedia". Retrieved 2021-08-28.
  28. ^ "Shree K. Nayar | Curriculum Vitae". Retrieved 2021-08-28.

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