Katie Bouman

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Katie Bouman
Known forCHIRP algorithm
Scientific career
ThesisExtreme imaging via physical model inversion : seeing around corners and imaging black holes
Doctoral advisorWilliam T. Freeman

Katherine Louise Bouman (/ˈbmæn/;[1] born 1989/1990[2]) is an American computer scientist working in the field of imaging.

She led the development of an algorithm for imaging black holes, known as Continuous High-resolution Image Reconstruction using Patch priors (CHIRP), and was a member of the Event Horizon Telescope team that captured the first image of a black hole.[3][4]

She is expected to join the faculty of California Institute of Technology in June 2019 as an assistant professor of computing and mathematical sciences.[5][6][7]

Early life and education[edit]

Bouman grew up in West Lafayette, Indiana, and graduated from West Lafayette Junior-Senior High School in 2007. Her father, Charles Bouman, is a professor of electrical and computer engineering and biomedical engineering at Purdue University.[8] As a high school student, she conducted imaging research at Purdue University.[8] She first learned about the Event Horizon Telescope in school in 2007.[9]

Bouman studied electrical engineering at the University of Michigan and graduated summa cum laude in 2011. She earned her master's degree (2013) and doctoral degree (2017) in electrical engineering and computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).[10]

External video
How to take a picture of a black hole, Katie Bouman, TEDx talk, April 28, 2017, 12m, 51s[1]

At MIT, she was a member of the Haystack Observatory.[11][12] She was supported by a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship. Her master's thesis, Estimating Material Properties of Fabric through the Observation of Motion,[13] was awarded the Ernst Guillemin Award for best Master's Thesis in electrical engineering.[14] Her Ph.D. dissertation, Extreme imaging via physical model inversion: seeing around corners and imaging black holes, was supervised by William T. Freeman.[15] Prior to receiving her doctoral degree, Bouman delivered a TEDx talk, How to Take a Picture of a Black Hole, which explained algorithms that could be used to capture the first image of a black hole.[1][2][16]

Research and career[edit]

After earning her doctorate, Bouman joined Harvard University as a postdoctoral fellow on the Event Horizon Telescope Imaging team.[17][18][19] She will join the California Institute of Technology as an assistant professor in June 2019, where she plans to work on new systems for computational imaging using computer vision and machine learning.[20][21][22]

A blurry photo of a supermassive black hole in M87.
The first direct image of a black hole, imaged by the Event Horizon Telescope and published in April 2019

Bouman joined Event Horizon Telescope project in 2013.[23] She led the development of an algorithm for imaging black holes, known as Continuous High-resolution Image Reconstruction using Patch priors, or CHIRP.[16][24][25] CHIRP inspired image validation procedures used in acquiring the first image of a black hole in April 2019,[26] and Bouman played a significant role in the project[3][27] by verifying images, selecting parameters for filtering images taken by the Event Horizon Telescope[28] and participating in the development of a robust imaging framework that compared the results of different image reconstruction techniques.[29] Her group is analyzing the Event Horizon Telescope's images to learn more about general relativity in a strong gravitational field.[20]

Bouman received significant media attention after a photo, showing her reaction to the detection of the black hole shadow in the EHT images, went viral.[3][30][31][32] Some parts of the media and the internet used wording that misleadingly implied that Bouman was a "lone genius" behind the image.[33][34] However, Bouman herself has repeatedly noted that the result came from the work of a large collaboration, showing the importance of teamwork in science.[3][35][34] Bouman became the target of harassment online, to the extent that her colleague Andrew Chael made a statement on Twitter criticizing "awful and sexist attacks on my colleague and friend Katie Bouman", including attempts to undermine her contributions by crediting him solely with work accomplished by the team working together.[27][29][36][37]


  1. ^ a b c Bouman, Katie. "Katie Bouman | Speaker | TED". www.ted.com. Retrieved April 10, 2019.
  2. ^ a b Guarino, Ben (April 10, 2019). "Algorithms gave us the black hole picture. She's the 29-year-old scientist who helped create them". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 16, 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d Mervosh, Sarah (April 11, 2019). "How Katie Bouman Accidentally Became the Face of the Black Hole Project". The New York Times. Retrieved April 12, 2019.
  4. ^ Anon (April 11, 2019). "The woman behind first black hole image". bbc.co.uk. BBC News.
  5. ^ "Katie Bouman Joins EAS and CMS". cms.caltech.edu. Retrieved April 11, 2019.
  6. ^ Katie Bouman at MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory
  7. ^ Focus on the First Event Horizon Telescope Results — the series of articles in The Astrophysical Journal Letters which report the EHT results
  8. ^ a b Bangert, Dave (April 10, 2019). "That first-ever black hole picture? A West Lafayette grad played a big part". conline.com. Journal & Courier. Retrieved April 10, 2019.
  9. ^ Abraham, Zennie (April 10, 2019). "About Katie Bouman Creator Of First Black Hole Image From Event Horizon Telescope". oaklandnewsnow.com. Oakland News Now Today. Retrieved April 10, 2019.
  10. ^ "Katie Bouman aka Katherine L. Bouman". people.csail.mit.edu. Retrieved April 11, 2019.
  11. ^ Chu, Jennifer. "Working together as a "virtual telescope," observatories around the world produce first direct images of a black hole". news.mit.edu. MIT News. Retrieved April 10, 2019.
  12. ^ Fletcher, Seth (2018). Einstein's shadow : a black hole, a band of astronomers, and the quest to see the unseeable. New York, NY: Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. p. 140. ISBN 978-0-06-231202-0. OCLC 1055204305.
  13. ^ Bouman, Katherine Louise (2013). Estimating the material properties of fabric through the observation of motion (S.M. thesis). Massachusetts Institute of Technology. hdl:1721.1/84905. OCLC 868903611. Free to read
  14. ^ "EECS Celebrates – Fall 2014 Awards | MIT EECS". www.eecs.mit.edu. Retrieved April 10, 2019.
  15. ^ Bouman, Katherine Louise (2017). Extreme imaging via physical model inversion : seeing around corners and imaging black holes (PhD thesis). Massachusetts Institute of Technology. hdl:1721.1/113998. OCLC 1027411179. Free to read
  16. ^ a b Chappel, Bill (April 10, 2019). "Earth Sees First Image Of A Black Hole". NPR. Retrieved April 10, 2019.
  17. ^ "Katie Bouman". bhi.fas.harvard.edu. Retrieved April 10, 2019.
  18. ^ "Professor Katie Bouman (Caltech): " Imaging a Black Hole with the Event Horizon Telescope"". Retrieved April 10, 2019.
  19. ^ "Project bids to make black hole movies". BBC News. February 16, 2017. Retrieved April 10, 2019.
  20. ^ a b "Katherine L. (Katie) Bouman". caltech.edu. California Institute of Technology. Retrieved April 10, 2019.
  21. ^ Katie Bouman publications indexed by Google Scholar Edit this at Wikidata
  22. ^ "Imaging the Invisible". www.ee.columbia.edu. Retrieved April 10, 2019.
  23. ^ Ellis-Petersen, Hannah (April 11, 2019). "Katie Bouman: the 29-year-old whose work led to first black hole photo". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved May 9, 2019.
  24. ^ Bouman, Katherine L.; Johnson, Michael D.; Zoran, Daniel; Fish, Vincent L.; Doeleman, Sheperd S.; Freeman, William T. (2016). "Computational Imaging for VLBI Image Reconstruction": 913–922. arXiv:1512.01413. doi:10.1109/CVPR.2016.105. hdl:1721.1/103077.
  25. ^ "Scientist superstar Katie Bouman designed algorithm for black hole image". phys.org. April 11, 2019. Retrieved April 12, 2019.
  26. ^ @MIT_CSAIL (April 12, 2019). "Clarification" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  27. ^ a b Elfrink, Tim. "Trolls hijacked a scientist's image to attack Katie Bouman. They picked the wrong astrophysicist". Washington Post. Retrieved April 12, 2019.
  28. ^ Lou, Michelle; Ahmed, Saeed (April 10, 2019). "That image of a black hole you saw everywhere today? Thank this grad student for making it possible". cnn.com. CNN. Retrieved April 10, 2019.
  29. ^ a b Chael, Andrew [@thisgreyspirit] (April 11, 2019). "(3/7) the work of many others who wrote code, debugged, and figured out how to use the code on challenging EHT data. With a few others, Katie also developed the imaging framework that rigorously tested all three codes and shaped the entire paper (iopscience.iop.org/article/10.3847/2041-8213/ab0e85);" (Tweet). Retrieved May 9, 2019 – via Twitter.
  30. ^ Ellis-Petersen, Hannah (April 11, 2019). "Katie Bouman: the 29-year-old whose work led to first black hole photo". The Guardian. Retrieved April 13, 2019.
  31. ^ Lou, Michelle; Ahmed, Saeed (April 12, 2019). "To undermine Katherine Bouman's role in the black hole photo, trolls held up a white man as the real hero – until he fought back". CNN. Retrieved April 13, 2019.
  32. ^ Collins, Ben (April 12, 2019). "The first picture of a black hole made Katie Bouman an overnight celebrity. Then internet trolls descended". NBC News. Retrieved April 13, 2019.
  33. ^ Koren, Marina (April 15, 2019). "The Dark Saga of Katie Bouman". The Atlantic. Retrieved May 12, 2019.
  34. ^ a b Smith, Kiona N. (April 14, 2019). "We Should Listen To Katie Bouman: Science Takes Teamwork". Forbes. Retrieved April 22, 2019. One section of the internet made Bouman a figurehead without her consent and often over her own protests, while another section subjected her to harassment and virulent backlash.
  35. ^ Perkins, Robert (April 15, 2019). "How to Take a Picture of a Black Hole". CalTech News. Retrieved April 22, 2019.
  36. ^ Griggs, Mary Beth (April 13, 2019). "Online trolls are harassing a scientist who helped take the first picture of a black hole". The Verge. Retrieved April 14, 2019.
  37. ^ Joyce, Kathleen (April 13, 2019). "Internet trolls attempted to discredit Katie Bouman's work on black hole project". Fox News. Retrieved April 14, 2019.

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