CURRICULUM VITAE OF Jean SERRA
Education (Degrees, University)
Career (Employers, Positions)
(The list below only concerns courses given away from France, that lasted one week at least, and where J. Serra was main lecturer).
Other fields of interest
1972-1984 member of the Russian Liturgical Choir of the Holy Trinity Church (Paris).
1988- 2002 titular organist at St-Peter Church of Avon (Fontainebleau).
2001- Deputy mayor of the city of Fontainebleau.
Comments about my
As a conclusion, I would like to survey briefly the major themes of my scientific career, described from a general perspective first, and then from a more personal point of view.
What is Mathematical Morphology ?
In the field of image processing, although matters evolve rapidly, some methodological bases, some a priori points of view frow which one tries to understand the physical world remain unchanged. As regards Mathematical Morphology, this behaviour consists in favouring ordering relations between regions rather than their metric characteristics. In particular, it directly leads to set descriptors. Using this kind of approach, as soon as one looks beyond the mathematical layer, a certain epistemology arises. For instance, the Matheron’s axiomatics for a granulometry summarises the essentials of all the techniques designed for measuring size, and even of what is meant by the word "size". The same applies to several other concepts, such as that of a connective criterion for image segmentation .
The above choice requires some comments. In natural sciences, morphological description precedes the determination of laws, whereas it follows in physics. The main interest of a law comes classically from the elimination of morphological characteristics (volume, etc). However, in many areas, both the structural description and the determination of laws co-exist, and we must try to bring them together. In order to achieve this goal Mathematical Morphology has conceived descriptors , and has developed its theory along three ways. First, it proposes a set of operators expressing some characteristics of the medium of the image under study (morphological filters , connections , etc ). Here the background is that of lattices, which allows to formalize ordering relations, suprema, etc.. and which turns out to be a common denominator to sets, to numerical, or vector, functions and to partitions. Second, Mathematical Morphology elaborates a comprehensive range of random models , and third it achieves a synthesis between texture and physical properties, at least in some fields of physics, such as mechanics .
Although morphological operators were initially set oriented and designed for physics, they have pursued their own evolution, according to the addressed issues : a tool exists independently of its initial finality. For three decades they have been extensively used in optical or electron microscopy (cytology, histology , material sciences ) and in the areas where numerical images are generated, such as radiology or remote sensing. They have served also as a substitute for human vision in various industrial tasks (quality control , security). But new fields give rise to new theoretical issues and the boom of multi-media applications during the last decade has led to original concepts (connection , connected operators , geodesy ).
It is worth quoting another event, which occurred also during the nineties. The International Society for Mathematical Morphology (ISMM) was founded in 1993 in Barcelona, where the first international workshop on the subject took place. Since this time, five other symposia were held. In symbiosis with the activities of ISMM, the Pierre Soilles’s « morphological digest », transmitted by Internet means, has an audience of one thousand regular readers. But the number of the users of the method is incomparably larger, and several morphological operators, such as openings, hit-or-miss, etc.. are now everyday features in image processing.
My voice in the choir
In 1965, in cooperation with G. Matheron, I laid the foundations of a new method, that we called Mathematical Morphology , and we created the "Centre de Morphologie Mathématique" within the Ecole des Mines de Paris three years later. The initial, and still valid, purpose was to link physical properties with textures, in fluid mechanics, sintering processes, etc... . First the supervisor of my PhD thesis, Georges Matheron, who was ten years older than me, gradually became my friend. Indeed, it is always difficult to situate one's work when it is closely linked with a partner with whom one has been associated for thirty-five years, and who departed two years ago.
During the last decade however, our common activity notably reduced. G. Matheron devoted his last efforts to the theory of compact lattices (1990-1996). On my part, I clearly oriented the research of the Centre de Morphologie Mathématique towards information related problems (telecom, image and video compression, data retrieval, content-based indexing). These applications led me to formulate the theory of morphological connections on lattices that is the core curriculum for a comprehensive class of filters and segmentations adapted to human vision.
My scientific activity during the period 1965-1985 is gather together in the two volumes of "Image Analysis and Mathematical Morphology", Ac. Press (Vol. I, 1982 ; Vol. II, 1988). As many scientists getting on in age, I am the author, or co-author, of more than one hundred papers, and about ten books. During the last twenty years, my main contributions to mathematics and physics were the following
- The theory of morphological filtering, co-invented with G. Matheron, in 1983-1998, which constitutes an alternative to Fourier analysis ;
- the formulation of mathematical morphology in the framework of the complete lattices ( in cooperation with G. Matheron , 1984-1988)    ;
- A study of the equi-continuous functions, with a view to processing images (1991-1998)  ;
- The concept of a connection, that generalizes connectivity ; it was initially set up morphological filtering (1988-2000), and that led on a theory of segmentation (2002-2004) ;
- Some works on colour that hold on new luminance/saturation/hue systems and on a physical model for reflection/diffusion (2001-2004) ;
- A theory of interpolation which is based on some geodesics of Hausdorff distance (1998-2000) .
I am fascinated by the process that makes the world intelligible, and which, conversely, goes back from theory to an actual handling of things. That is the reason why I designed and patented image analysers, and why I launched several companies, for industrial control, for fingerprints, for quantitative microscopy, and others.
Texts most representative of my scientific work
7. "Remarques sur une lame mince de minerai lorrain ". Bull. du B.R.G.M., Déc. 1967, 1-36.
8. "Buts et réalisation de l'analyseur de textures ". R.I..M. Vol. 49, Sept. 1967, 1-14.
9. "Morphologie Mathématique et granulométries en place". (with A. Haas and G. Matheron). Annales des Mines - Part I : Vol. XI, Nov. 1967, 736-753 - Part II : Vol. XII, Déc. 1967, 768-782.
10. "Les structures gigognes : Morphologie Mathématique et interprétation métallogénique", Mineralium Deposita, 1968, No 3, 135-154
11. "Use of covariograms for dendrite arm spacing measurements ", Trans. of A.I.M.E., Vol. 245, Jan. 1969, 55-59.
12. "La quantification en pétrographie" ; "Trois études de Morphologie Mathématique en géologie de l'Ingénieur", (with E.N. Kolomenski), Bull. de l'Association Internationale de Géologie de l'Ingénieur, N° 13, Krefeld, June 1976, 83-87.
13. "Boolean Model and Random Sets", Comp. Graph. and Im. Proc.1980, Vol. 12, 99-126.
14. "Descriptors of flatness and roughness", J. of Micr., June 1984, Vol. 134, N° 3, 227-243.
15. "Contacts in random packing of spheres",(with Y. Pomeau) J. of Micr., Vol. 138, N°2, May 1985, 179-185.
16. "Morphological optics", J. of Micr., Jan. 1987, Vol. 145, N°1, 1-22.
17. L'algorithme du tailleur (Reprise), April 1988, 9 p. [tech. Report EMP, N-07/88/MM]
18. "Boolean random functions", Acta Stereologica, 1987, Vol. 6, Pt III, 325-330.
19. "Contrasts and activity lattice ", (with F. Meyer) Signal Processing - Special Issue on Mathematical Morphology, Avril 1989, Vol. 16, N°4, pp. 303-317.
20. "Boolean random functions", J. of Micr., Vol. 156, N°1, Octobrer1989, 41-63.
21. "An Overview of Morphological filtering" (with L.Vincent). IEEE Trans. on Circuits, Systems and Signal Processing, Vol. 11, N°1, 1992, 47-108.
22. "Equicontinuous functions: a model for Mathematical Morphology", SPIE Conf.,Vol. 1769 San Diego'92, 1992, 252-263.
24. "Convergence, Continuity, and Iteration in Mathematical Morphology ". (with H.J.A.M. Heijmans), J.V.C.I.R., Vol. 3, N°1, March 1992, 84-102.
35. Morphological descriptions using three-dimensional wavefronts. Image Analysis & Stereology 2002 ; 21 : 1-9 / ENSMP 18 p.