Mohammad Ataul Karim

Mohammad Ataul Karim
Born May 4, 1953 (1953-05-04) (age 58)
Sylhet, Bangladesh
Citizenship Bangladesh / USA
Nationality Flag of Bangladesh.svg Bangladeshi / American
Fields Optical computing
Electrical engineering
Institutions University of Arkansas at Little Rock
Wichita State University
University of Dayton
University of Tennessee at Knoxville
City University of New York
Old Dominion University
Alma mater Faujdarhat Cadet College
MC College
University of Dhaka
University of Alabama
Known for Biophysics
Non Linear Image Processing
Optical computing
Electro-optical displays
Optical & Hybrid Electro-optical Systems Design

Professor Mohammad Ataul Karim is a Bangladeshi American scientist and Vice President for Research[1] of Old Dominion University (ODU) in Norfolk, Virginia. He is trained as a physicist and an electrical engineer with expertise in electro-optical devices and systems, optical computing, image processing, and pattern recognition.


Early life

Born on May 4, 1953 in Sylhet, Bangladesh, he grew up in Barlekha, a border town in Moulvibazar. Attended Shatma Primary for his elementary education and Patharia Chotolekha High for a year after which he left home to be schooled at Faujdarhat Cadet College (1965–1969), Sylhet MC College (1969–1972), and the University of Dhaka (1972–1976) wherefrom he received his bachelors' honors degree in physics. His years at Faujdarhat is documented in a book titled A Steeplechase Story, a memoir published in 2008 to celebrate 50 years of Cadet College movement in Bangladesh. He moved to the United States in 1976 and earned his masters' degrees in physics (1978) and electrical engineering (1979), and a doctor of philosophy in electrical engineering (1982) from the University of Alabama.

Karim got his start with creative writing early in his college years. Over thirty of his popular science writings in Bangla appeared in Bigyan Shamoeeki and Bangla Academy Bigyan Patrika during 1972–1976. Of these, the most significant were Biborthon Kahinee, a series of articles on cosmic and biological evolution, and Shamproteek, a monthly feature of current affairs in science, both of which appeared in Bigyan Shamoeeki. During his undergraduate years, he submitted to Bangla Academy a popular science book manuscript for publication. He waited for two years and felt rebuffed when he could not extract any reviewer feedback from the Academy. Fortunately, this personal disappointment coincided with his plan to depart for US marking an abrupt end to his creative writing in Bangla.

All his books on science and engineering as well as research works appeared from outside of Bangladesh. A 2004 Government of Bangladesh report[2] and a number of books in Bangla including Bangladesher Shera Bigyani (Hitler A. Halim, Shikor, 2004) and Medhabi Manusher Golpo (Mohammad Kaykobad, Annyaprokash, 2005) as well as Star Insight[3] cite him as an example of outstanding success of the Bangladeshi diaspora. He was featured also in "Hidden Costs of Brain Gain" (David Wessel; Wall Street Journal, 2001) and in turn by David Heenan who explored the economic, cultural and political factors driving a return of many back to their homelands in his book Flight Capital: The Alarming Exodus of America’s Best and Brightest.[4]

Scientific Accomplishments

Karim is known for his many original contributions in a number of different topics the most notable of which includes:

  • BIOPHYSICS: This phase of his research was conducted during 1976–78 when he devoted to the understanding of carcinogenic single crystals of 3-hydroxyxanthine (3-OHX). He used electron spin resonance and thermo-luminescence techniques to characterize 3-OHX and identified possible impacts of x-ray irradiation on these crystals in an attempt to understand how to contain spread of cancer that is caused by 3-OHX.
  • NONLINEAR IMAGE PROCESSING: This aspect of his research in the early 80's was centered around use of all-optical image processing systems. He designed, fabricated and used halftone contact screens to convert two-dimensional analog optical images in to their digitized equivalents.[5] The digitized images would be used thereafter in Fourier optical systems to analyze finer apects of original analog image. Karim was first in the world to design a functioning all-optical homomorphic imaging system that used a specially designed logarithmic halftone contact screen to transform multiplicative images into additive components.[6] The homomorphic system made use of a specially designed exponential halftone contact screen to then separate the additive components and, thus, filter out multiplicative noises from the signal. He used his all-optical system to separate multiplicative noises from radiographic images in near real-time.
  • ELECTRO-OPTICAL DISPLAYS: Karim studied degradation of images that would be captured otherwise by night-vision goggles (NVG). He and his team members established that degradation is caused by latency of phosphors that are used in NVG intensifier tubes and becomes pronounced when the NVG is on board a system that itself is in motion.[7][8] NVG’s worn by pilots in a helicopter when flying closer to the ground terrain, in particular, caused severe enough degradation that the pilots would be prone to making errors when identifying targets on the ground. Karim designed an optimized inverse filter system that when incorporated to NVG systems corrected for motion-associated image degradation as well as methods to characterize infrared detection and display systems.[9]
  • OPTICAL COMPUTING: Karim and his team of students demonstrated use of a polarization-encoded optical shadow-casting (POSC) system for realizing digital optical computing. They successfully identified a number of powerful algorithms to realize any arbitrary arithmetic, logic, and sequential operations using POSC system.[10][11][12][13] Upon identifying what particular function needs to be realized, the corresponding POSC algorithm can be used readily to design encodings of the inputs. While in Boolean algebra, the design of electronic logic systems leads to identification of electronic logic units; the POSC technique leads instead to design of the encoded inputs rather than the incoherent optical processing unit. Karim and his students succeeded also in designing numerous optical symbolic substitution (OSS) systems to realize arithmetic and logical operations as well as image processing in parallel.[14][15][16] This latter system depended often on content-addressable holographic memory units and on identification of substitution rules that are used sequentially until the output bits can be generated by the OSS system.
  • OPTICAL & HYBRID ELECTRO-OPTICAL SYSTEMS DESIGN: Karim and his students designed several unique optical as well as hybrid electro-optical systems which were able to convert an input optical beam to different types of output optical beam. Examples of such systems that he designed and studied are able to convert: (a) Gaussian input beam to uniform (or flat-topped) output beam;[17] (b) Gaussian input beam to Bessel-type diffraction-free output beam;[18][19] and (c) circular input beam to annular output beam and vice-versa.[20] One of the major challenges of designing Type (c) beam, in particular, is to make sure that the resulting system doesn’t get heated up when transmitting high-power CO2 beams through it. Karim also contributed significantly to the design and understanding of optical heterodyne detection systems[21] as well as of distributed feedback lasers,[22] establishing techniques for high-accuracy measurement of Gaussian beam diameters,[23][24][25] determining modulation transfer functions of charge coupled devices,[26] and characterization of signals from staring array detectors.[27]
  • PATTERN RECOGNITION: Starting late 1980s, Karim and his coworkers studied extensively ways to identify means to recognize objects or targets of interest in raw images. Based on the type of applications, the target could be of military interest, medical diagnostics or manufacturing needs. The techniques and systems that were optimized by Karim and his team focused on accomplishing the tasks in question in real-time at a speed much faster than what could be accomplished otherwise by electronic means. The systems he explored are hybrid electro-optical in nature – the ones that are able to process two-dimensional images in parallel and makes use of two-dimensional Fourier transformation operations with signal being transmitted in parallel at the speed of light. A wide variety of optical as well as hybrid electro-optical systems were explored and analyzed over the years by Karim. These pattern recognition systems were based on either (a) amplitude-modulated phase-only filter;[28] (b) joint-Fourier optical systems;[29][30][31] or (c) Mellin transform based systems. Each of these systems were characterized in terms of their robustness, degree of recognition, noise tolerance, and degree of invariance as far as pose, lighting, scale and rotation effects are concerned.

Academic career

His academic career included serving as a faculty member at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (1982–1983), Wichita State University in Kansas (1983–1986), University of Dayton in Ohio (1986–1998), University of Tennessee at Knoxville (1998–2000), the City University of New York (2000–2004), and Old Dominion University (2004–present). He was founding director of electro-optics program at the University of Dayton. Karim led development of a number of accredited degree programs – computer engineering programs at three institutions (at University of Dayton, University of Tennessee at Knoxville, and CCNY), a biomedical engineering program (at CCNY), and an earth systems science and environmental engineering program (at CCNY), as well as establishing the Department of Biomedical Engineering at CCNY. At the University of Dayton, he championed establishment of an interdisciplinary doctoral program in electro-optics, one of only seven such programs in North America.[32]

Mohammad Karim authored over 375 scientific articles, 18 books, and seven book chapters and served as guest editor of 28 journal special issues. During his academic career, he supervised MS/PhD research of over 55 graduate students.

His most significant contribution in support of Bangladesh and its scientific community includes leading the International Conference on Computer and Information Technology (ICCIT) effort and transitioning it to become the largest scientific and technological conference held in Bangladesh.[33][34]

Honors and awards

  • Ranked 4th in Bangladesh's Secondary School Certificate Examination in 1969.[35]
  • Ranked 1st in Bangladesh's Higher Secondary (School) Certificate Examination in 1972[35]
  • NCR Stakeholder Award (1989)
  • Up and Comers Education Award (1990)
  • NASA Tech Brief Award (1990)
  • Alumni Award in Scholarship, University of Dayton (1991)
  • Outstanding Scientist Award, Engineering & Science Foundation of Dayton (1994)
  • Outstanding Engineering Research Award, University of Dayton (1998)


Karim has been recognized as an outstanding alumni by Faujdarhat Cadet College,[44] Sylhet MC College, Dhaka University,[45] and University of Alabama.[46]

Editorial Roles


  • Fiber Optic Coupling System, US Patent No. 4, 798, 428, January 17, 1989
  • Trinary Associative Memory, US Patent No. 5,257, 387, October 26, 1993


  • IASTED Technology Conferences 2010, Acta Press, November 2010. (With K. Lee, H. Ling, D. Maroudas, and T. Sobh).
  • Technological Developments in Networking, Education and Automation, Springer, The Netherlands, August 2010 (With A. Mahmood, T. Sobh, V. Kapila, M. Iskander, and M. Elleithy).
  • Technological Developments in Education and Automation, Springer, The Netherlands, 2010. (With M. Iskander, and V. Kapila).
  • Projeto Digital: Conceitos e Principios Basicos (in Portuguese), LTC-Livros Tecnicos e Cientificos Editora S.A., Rio de Janerio, Brazil, 2009. (With Xinghao Chen)
  • Novel Algorithms and Techniques in Telecommunications, Automation and Industrial Electronics, Springer, The Netherlands, 2008. (with T. Sobh, K. Elleithy, and A. Mahmood).
  • Continuous Signals and Systems with MATLAB 2nd Edition, CRC Press – Taylor & Francis Group, Florida, January 2008. (With T. El-Ali).
  • Digital Design: Basic Concepts and Principles, CRC Press – Taylor & Francis Group, November 2007. (with Xinghao Chen)
  • Innovative Algorithms and Techniques in Automation, Industrial Electronics and Telecommunications, Springer, The Netherlands, 2007. (With T. Sobh, K. Elleithy, and A. Mahmood.
  • Advances in Computer, Information, and Systems Sciences and Engineering, Springer, The Netherlands, 2006. (With K. Elleithy, T. Sobh, A. Mahmood and M. Iskander.
  • Continuous Signals and Systems with MATLAB, CRC Press, Florida, 2001. (With T. El-Ali)
  • Solutions Manual – Continuous Signals and Systems with MATLAB, CRC Press, Florida, March 2001. (With T. El-Ali, and Y. Tian).
  • Optical Computing: An Introduction, John Wiley & Sons, New York, 1992. (With A.A.S. Awwal).
  • Electro-Optical Displays, Marcel Dekker, New York, 1992.
  • Electro-Optical Devices and Systems, PWS KENT Publishing Co, Boston, Mass, 1990.
  • Solution Manual Accompanying Electro-Optical Devices & Systems, PWS Kent Pub. Co., Boston, Mass, 1990.
  • Digital Design: A Pragmatic Approach, PWS KENT Publishers, Boston, Mass, 1987. (With E.L. Johnson).
  • Solution Manual Digital Design: A Pragmatic Approach, PWS Kent Publishers, Boston, Mass, 1987. (With E.L. Johnson).


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  5. ^ "Fabrication of precompensated contact screens for finite-gamma recording media". Retrieved October 21, 2011. 
  6. ^ "All-optical homomorphic image-processing system". Optics InfoBase. August 1, 1982. doi:10.1364/OL.7.000371. Retrieved October 21, 2011. 
  7. ^ "Applied Optics – Restoration of moving binary images degraded owing to phosphor persistence". Optics InfoBase. September 10, 1991. doi:10.1364/AO.30.003734. Retrieved October 21, 2011. 
  8. ^ "Applied Optics – Dynamic modulation transfer function of a display system". Optics InfoBase. January 10, 1991. doi:10.1364/AO.30.000201. Retrieved October 21, 2011. 
  9. ^ "Minimum resolvable temperature difference model – A critical evaluation". Retrieved October 21, 2011. 
  10. ^ "Polarization-encoded optical shadow-casting logic units: design". Optics InfoBase. July 15, 1987. doi:10.1364/AO.26.002720. Retrieved October 21, 2011. 
  11. ^ "Polarization-encoded optical shadow-casting programmable logic array: simultaneous generation of multiple outputs". Optics InfoBase. March 1, 1988. doi:10.1364/AO.27.000932. Retrieved October 21, 2011. 
  12. ^ "Edge detection using polarization-encoded optical shadow-casting – Awwal – 2007 – Microwave and Optical Technology Letters – Wiley Online Library". September 16, 1988. Retrieved October 21, 2011. 
  13. ^ "Multiple-valued logic based multiprocessor using polarization-encoded optical sh". Retrieved October 21, 2011. 
  14. ^ "Simplified arithmetic for optical symbolic substitution – Cherri – 2007 – Microwave and Optical Technology Letters – Wiley Online Library". July 6, 1988. Retrieved October 21, 2011. 
  15. ^ "Optical symbolic substitution: edge detection using Prewitt, Sobel, and Roberts operators". Optics InfoBase. November 1, 1989. doi:10.1364/AO.28.004644. Retrieved October 21, 2011. 
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  20. ^ "Applied Optics – Refracting system for annular laser beam transformation". Optics InfoBase. June 15, 1987. doi:10.1364/AO.26.002446. Retrieved October 21, 2011. 
  21. ^ "Heterodyne detection using a diffraction-free beam: background-noise effects". Optics InfoBase. June 10, 1993. doi:10.1364/AO.32.003144. Retrieved October 21, 2011. 
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  26. ^ "Modulation transfer function of charge-coupled devices". Optics InfoBase. February 10, 1990. doi:10.1364/AO.29.000717. Retrieved October 21, 2011. 
  27. ^ "Acquisition by staring focal-plane arrays: pixel geometry effects | Publications". SPIE. Retrieved October 21, 2011. 
  28. ^ "Improved correlation discrimination using an amplitude-modulated phase-only filter". Optics InfoBase. January 10, 1990. doi:10.1364/AO.29.000233. Retrieved October 21, 2011. 
  29. ^ "Fringe-adjusted joint transform correlation". Optics InfoBase. August 10, 1993. doi:10.1364/AO.32.004344. Retrieved October 21, 2011. 
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