Cognitive science site Mixing Memory has a tribute to David Marr, a pioneer in understanding visual perception, and in combining neurological and psychological levels of explanation, who died tragically early at the age of 35.
Marr wanted to understand how the brain could start with two-dimensional arrays of light spots on the retina and subsequently produce a rich three-dimensional visual experience.
He argued that the final visual experience is produced by a series of computations that extract important information, such as edges, object groupings and depth information, from basic visual data.
Crucially, he also gave the mathematical procedures, based on an understanding of the biology of the visual system, that might perform these operations.
As well as producing one of the most influential theories of vision, he also influenced how neuroscientists and psychologists think about how the brain works. He proposed that the biology of the brain serves to process information, and that brain cells can be modelled with accurate computational models.
Marr died of leukemia at the age of 35, and produced his most influential work (the book Vision) in the knowledge he had little time left to complete it.
It was published two years after his death in 1982 and is prefaced by the statement “This book is meant to be enjoyed”.