View Full Version : In Memorium -- Houssam Mahmoud Karara

Jim Walton
06-08-1993, 05:02 PM
To the Members of the Biomechanics Community:

The DLT has become a staple of the biomechanics community, yet I
believe that the community as a whole knows relatively little about
the man who gave it its (now quite familiar) name, and who made the
first extensive use of the algorithm.

The following tribute was published on page 599 of the May 1993 issue
of Photogrammetric Engineering and Remote Sensing (the official
journal of the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote
Sensing) ...

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Houssam Mahmoud Karara, internationally known educator and engineer,
died 15 November 1992 in Champaign, Illinois. Houssam (or Sam as he
was affectionately known) was perhaps best known for his
contributions in the field of nontopographic photogrammetry,
particularly in the development of photogrammetric techniques for
biomedical and industrial applications. He elevated the commonly
available tourist camera to a powerful scientific instrument for
performing accurate geometric measurements. The method of Direct
Linear Transformation (DLT) which he developed with his student,
Y.I. Abdel-Aziz, revolutionized the computational processes in
Photogrammetry and is widely used today in applications, such as
robotic vision, where computational speed and simplicity is

Houssam was born 5 September 1928 in Cairo, Egypt, a son of Mahmoud
and Amna Kashef Karara. He received his BS degree from Cairo
University, Cairo, Egypt, in 1949. For the next five years, he
worked for the Egyptian Ministry of Public Works. While undertaking
graduate work at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH),
Zurich, Switzerland, he worked summers for La Grande Dixence Co.,
Sion, Switzerland on power projects. He received the Doctor of
Science (Techn.) degree in Geodetic Sciences from the Swiss Federal
Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich, Switzerland in 1956. After
receiving his doctoral degree he served as Scientific Collaborator
(1956-57) at the Institute of Photogrammetry of the Swiss Federal
Institute of Technology, and was also a Scientific Collaborator,
Wild-Heerbrugg, Switzerland during the last six months of that

He joined the faculty of the Department of Civil Engineering,
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the fall of 1957 as an
Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering. In 1961 he was promoted to
the level of associate professor and in 1966 to the rank of Professor
of Civil Engineering. From 1975 to retirement he also held a joint
appointment in the Department of Geography. He was an active teacher
and researcher throughout his 35-year career at the University of
Illinois. Seven doctoral students received their Ph.D. degrees under
his direction. He retired with Emeritus status in 1989. Dr. Karara
was a world renowned scholar and specialist in the field of
photogrammetry. Along with Professor R.E. Herron (formerly of the
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Baylor College of
Medicine), Professor Karara was a major driving force in the
development of photogrammetric measurement techniques for biomedical
applications, resulting in a field called biostereometrics. Sam's
research included the development of photogrammetric measurement
techniques to aid with the development of the artificial heart valve,
and in the study of the skeletal development of handicapped children.
He was a consultant to many government agencies and firms.

Throughout his career he was active in numerous societies, including
the International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing,
where he served as the President (1972-76) of Commission V:
Non-Topographic Photogrammetry; the American Society for
Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (Board of Direction 1969-72 and
1976-78); American Congress on Surveying and Mapping; the Canadian
Institute of Geometrics; Belgian Society of Photogrammetry; French
Society of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing; and the German Society
of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, among others. Within these
societies, as well as the university, he served on numerous
committees, and he was an effective leader.

He was the Editor-in-Chief of the first and second editions of the
Handbook of Non-Topographic Photogrammetry which were published in
1979 and 1987, a widely referenced and highly recognized publication
of international prominence. He was the author or co-author of more
than fifty books, chapters in books, and technical papers in the
areas of photogrammetry and related engineering applications.

Among the awards Professor Karara received were the Walter L. Huber
Research Prize of ASCE, the Photogrammetric Award (highest award of
the society), the Talbert Abrams Award, the Presidential Meritorious
Award (6 times), and the Presidential Service Award, all from the
ASPRS. His citation for the Photogrammetric Award read "for his
leadership and development of techniques and equipment for close-
range photogrammetic application, and the utilization of analytical
procedures and non-metric cameras to free the system from the
restrictions of conventional hardware." Also he was accorded
Faculty Honor Membership in Chi Epsilon, the Civil Engineering

He was a registered Professional Engineer in the State of Illinois.

He married Albertina Panchetti on 14 May 1955 in Zurich. They have
two daughters, Anna Maria (Karara) Durr of Porter, Texas, and Mervet
(Karara) Burroughs of Champaign, Illinois, and a grandson.

Sam Karara will be remembered for his innovative technical
contributions as well as his dedicated service to his chosen
profession. He will be sorely missed by his family, friends and

W. J. Hall
N. Khachaturian
K. Wong

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My personal contact with Dr. Karara was limited to brief meetings in
1973 and 1974, and several telephone conversations, but his impact on
my work through his publications has been significant. The
scientific community is richer for his contributions, and poorer for
his loss.

Jim Walton
3136 Pauline Drive
Sebastopol, CA 95472