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NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION - Stacks th919jh6519/sc... · PDF file 2013. 6. 14. · Oc tober 14, 1965 We ,{Quid appreciate it if you would assist us in the evaluation of the enclosed

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Text of NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION - Stacks th919jh6519/sc... · PDF file 2013. 6....


    Dr. John McCarthy Stanford University Stanford, California

    Dear Dr. McCarthy:


    Oc tober 14, 1965

    We ,{Quid appreciate it if you would assist us in the evaluation of the enclosed proposals.

    Your brief, critical comments on the scientific merits of the proposed projects will be of much value to us in arriving at a decision regarding their support. Your comments, of course , will be treated as confidential. The proposals and duplicate comment sheets may be retained for your file.

    The present demands upon our funds and the evolution of the scoring system within our Program have made the numer ical rating scale printed at the bottom of our comment sheet obsolete, Proposals receiving an average rating of 3 "acceptable" are, in fact, usually not supported, our consultants usually use a score of 2.5 to indicate a recommendat i on for support at a low prior ity and 2.0 to indicate a good, sound supportable proposal. Some of our consultants like to distinguish the better and outstanding proposals by using scores of 1.5 or 1.0 .

    It would be greatly appreciated if you would return your eValuation to us by October 29.

    I wish to thank you in advance for your cooperation in this matter,


    Sincerely yours,

    Herman VI. Lewis Program Director for Genetic Biology

  • B6 0362 R

    Research Proposal



    Prepared for

    National Science Foundation Washington, D. C. 20550

    Prepared by

    Dr. Peter W. Neurath, Co-Principal Investigator

    Kurt Enslein, Co-Principal Investigator

    NEW ENGLAND MEDICAL CENTER HOSPITALS Systems/Computer Applications Department

    171 Harrison Avenue Boston, Massachusetts 02111

    Augusc 16. 1.91D

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    It is desired to start this research as soon as possible. In order to allow the customary time for proposal review, the requested starting date is December 1, 1965.


    Because this application is for a feasibility study, an initial time period of support for l~ years from December 1, 1965 to May 31, 1967 is requested. If the results are sufficiently prOmising, a proposal may be submitted to build a hardware working system at the end of this feasibility study. Such a proposal ~'7ould be separate and distinct from this work.


    It is proposed to study the feasibility of scanning and identifying microscope slides automatically, using human chromosome metaphase spreads as objects to be identified. The most critical conceptual aspect of the problem is the one to be investigated, namely the feasibility of ~ecognizing interesting areas on microscope slides automatically by a method capable of rapid operation in its developed for.m.

    The need for rapid methods of examining optical, pictorial data of 411 kinds to find their significant content is urgent in many fields. Automated chromosome analysis is one specific example. Considerable effort is being expended on the automation of counting and analysis - particularly of the chromosomes of each located, good, metaphase cell. However, it is generally as time-consuming to locate worthwhile cells on a slide as it is to analyze them once they are found.

    Because of advances in data acquisition methods and in computer pattern recognition we believe we now have sufficiently powerful methods to approach this problem, and that these methods are now at a stage where their actual usefulness can be tested.

    It is therefore proposed to train a computer simulated perceptron to distinguish areas encompassing suitable spreads from areas devoid of such. The optical information will be fed into the computer as digitized data from a system such as the one developed and used to analyze single chromosome spreads by Dr. Neurath. The objective will be to find out how feasible this process is, how efficiently it works, and how much it costs, in t~e and money. This information may well pOint the uay to the construction of an automatic slide scanner.


    A. Background

    The use of computers for pattern recognition problems is a new and growing field. Although successful applications to date have been few. future extensions appear unlimited. A particular class of patterns

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    for recognition are optical ones. One often looks for a particular item or kind of item in one or many photographs. Aerial or satellite surveying are examples of this. Although the human observer is very good and efficient in recognizing particular classes of visual objects, the process may, by the sheer magnitude of the tasks, be t~e-consuming and boring. It may be easy and interesting to look for a hurricane cloud formation among 1000 pictures once, but to look for them on X thousand pictures every day of the year is a different problem.

    This sort of problem has become particularly urgent in the matter of chromosome analysis. It would be desirable to analyze the chromosomes of many sections of the population or in fact to analyze everyone's chromosomes at least once. Perhaps one would even like to analyze the chromosomes of people involved with well-knot~ hazards, such as workers exposed to ionizing radiations at regular intervals. For this purpose, several groups in the country, including one of the co-investigators (P. W. Neurath) have been working on pattern recognition programs to computerize toe analysis. A review of the activities in this field was given recently by the participants of the "Yale Conference on Machine Analysis of Chromosomesll • Most of this information is not yet published. We are including a preprint of our contribution* to this subject which contains the available references as well as an example of chromosome spread pictures. In addition, it describes a data acquisition system similar to one we would use to digitize pictorial information.

    From our experience, and from the results reported at this and other meetings, it is clear that the analysis of the selected picture is only part of the problem, and that at least as much time is ordinarily con- sumed in finding under the microscope spreads worth looking at under higher power. On a good average slide, there may be 5 analyzable spreads, and perhaps 10 more which only look good at first glance. To find, therefore, as few as 50 good spreads per person, which is the average number needed for an analYSis, requires a major scanning effort of slides. If a width of 200 microns is scanned at one time with negligible overlap, a 2:5 cm section of a microscope slide will require 125 complete traverses, each containing about