Center of Mathematical Morphology

35, rue St-Honoré

77305 Fontainebleau


Email :

Phone number :

(+33) 01 64 69 47 06

Fax :

(+33) 01 64 69 47 06


[ Home ]

[ Curriculum Vitae ]

[ Works list (in french) ]

[ A few publications ]

[ A few presentations ]

[ Courses ]



(may 2004)

General information

Civil Status

  • Name : SERRA Jean Paul Frédéric.
  • French nationality.
  • Military service completed as an artillery first lieutenant in 1967-1968.
  • Married, two children.
  • Professional address :   Centre de Morphologie Mathématique 35, rue Saint-Honoré 77300 FONTAINEBLEAU (FRANCE)
  • Tel. :    (0)1            Fax : (0)1         e-mail :

Education (Degrees, University)

  • 1957 : Scientific "baccalauréat"
  • 1957 : First price from the School of Music, ORAN (Algeria), in the piano section.
  • 1962 : Engineering degree from the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Mines de Nancy.
  • 1965 : Bachelor degree in philosophy/psychology, University of Nancy.
  • 1967 : PhD Thesis in Mathematical Geology at the University of Nancy.
  • 1986 : Doctorat d'Etat in Mathematics, at Pierre et Marie Curie University, Paris.


  • French (native language)
  • Russian
  • English (fluent)
  • Spanish (fluent)

Professional Events

Career (Employers, Positions)

  • 1962-1966 : Research engineer at IRSID (Institut de la Recherche de la Sidérurgie, France) and PhD student under the guidance of Prof. G. Matheron. Subject :Stochastic modeling of the iron deposit of Lorraine, at various scales.
  • 1966-1967 : Military service.
  • 1968-1986 : "Maître de Recherches" and Assistant Director of the Centre of Mathematical Morphology, at the Ecole des Mines de Paris.
  • 1971 : Sabbatical year at the Lomonossov University, Moscow.
  • 1983 : Professor at the Ecole des Mines de Paris.
  • 1983-: Member of the Editorial Board of Acta Stereologica
  • 1986- : "Directeur de Recherches" (equivalent to tenured Professor), Director of the Centre de Morphologie Mathématique, at the Ecole des Mines de Paris.
  • 1988-1991 : Member of the Scientific Board of the French T.V. cultural program.
  • 1989- : Member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Visual Communications andImage Representation.
  • 1990-: Member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Mathematical Imaging andVision.
  • 1991-1993 : Chairman of the "Image Algebra and Morphological Processing Conference" in SPIE Annual Meeting, San Diego, California, USA.
  • 1991-1992 : Sabbatical year at the Universities UPC and UAB, Barcelona, Spain.
  • 1993: Chairman of the first Int. Conf. in Mathematical Morphology, Barcelona, Spain.
  • 1994: Chairman of the second Int. Conf. in Mathematical Morphology, Fontainebleau, France.
  • 2000 : Technical Chairman of the 15th Int. Conf. on Pattern Recognition, ICIP 2000 Barcelona , Spain

Honors, Awards

  • 1979-1983 : Vice-President of the International Society for Stereology.
  • 1982 : ESCLANGON price, awarded by the French Society of Physics.
  • 1988 : First award of the great price of the AFCET Society (French equivalent for IEEE).
  • 1989 : Chevalier of the National Order of Merit.
  • 1993 : Doctor Honoris Causa of the Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain.
  • 1993 : Founder of the International Society for Mathematical Morphology, and first president of this society.

International Courses

(The list below only concerns courses given away from France, that lasted one week at least, and where J. Serra was main lecturer).

  • June 1973 : S.I.A.M. Course at Princeton University, USA.
  • May 1976 : Course on Mathematical Morphology at Tokyo Noko University (Japan).
  • Sept 1979 : Course on Stochastic Morphology, CSIRO, math. stat. division,Melbourne, (Australia).
  • May 1981 : Medical applications of Mathematical Morphology, Institute of Psychiatry, Ac. of Medicine of the Soviet Union, Moscow.
  • Aug.1982 to June 1984 : Industrial Vision by Mathematical Morphology, Univ. of Michigan, Ann Arbor (USA).
  • Jan 1984 : Lectures in Mathematical Morphology, E.N.I.T. Tunis (Tunisia).
  • June 1985 : Biological Morphology, Institute of Biophysics, Academia Sinica, Beijing (China).
  • April 1987 : Algorithms in Mathematical Morphology, Univ. of Liverpool (U.K.).
  • May 1988 : Course on Image Processing, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona(Spain).
  • June 1989 : Median and Morphological Filtering, EURASIP Course, Tampere Univ. of Technology (Finland).
  • Oct-dec 1991 : Curso de morfologia matematica, Un. Politecnica de Catalunya, Spain.
  • November 1992 : Curso de morfologia matematica, SIBGRAPI’92 Aguas de Lindoia, SP, Brasil.
  • July 1996 : Course on Mathematical Morphlogy, Int. Statistical Congress, Sydney.
  • September 1998 : Curso de morfologia matematica, Un. Politecnica de Valencia, Spain.
  • July 1999 : Mathematical Image Processing Un. Autonoma de Barcelona, Spain.
  • June 2001: First French-Nordic Summer School in Mathematics, Lake Erken , Sweden (co-organizer and main lecturer).


Other fields of interest


1972-1984                     member of the Russian Liturgical Choir of the Holy Trinity Church (Paris).

1988- 2002                   titular organist at St-Peter Church of Avon (Fontainebleau).

2001-                                    Deputy mayor of the city of Fontainebleau.



Comments about my scientific work

As a conclusion, I would like to survey briefly the major themes of my scientific career, described from a general perspective first, and then from a more personal point of view.


   What is Mathematical Morphology ?


   In the field of image processing, although matters evolve rapidly, some methodological bases, some a priori points of view frow which one tries to understand the physical world remain unchanged. As regards Mathematical Morphology, this behaviour consists in favouring ordering relations between regions rather than their metric characteristics. In particular, it directly leads to set descriptors. Using this kind of approach, as soon as one looks beyond the mathematical layer, a certain epistemology arises. For instance, the Matheron’s axiomatics for a granulometry summarises the essentials of all the techniques designed for measuring size, and even of what is meant by the word "size". The same applies to several other concepts, such as that of a connective criterion for image segmentation [39].


    The above choice requires some comments. In natural sciences, morphological description precedes the determination of laws, whereas it follows in physics. The main interest of a law comes classically from the elimination of morphological characteristics (volume, etc). However, in many areas, both the structural description and the determination of laws co-exist, and we must try to bring them together. In order to achieve this goal Mathematical Morphology has conceived descriptors [1], and has developed its theory along three ways. First, it proposes a set of operators expressing some characteristics of the medium of the image under study (morphological filters [3], connections [3][29][31], etc ). Here the background is that of lattices, which allows to formalize ordering relations, suprema, etc.. and  which turns out to be a common denominator to sets, to numerical, or vector, functions and to partitions. Second, Mathematical Morphology elaborates a comprehensive range of random models [20][28], and third it achieves a synthesis between texture and physical properties, at least in some fields of physics, such as mechanics [12][14][15].


  Although morphological operators were initially set oriented and designed for physics, they have pursued their own evolution, according to the addressed issues : a tool exists independently of its initial finality. For three decades they have been extensively used in optical or electron microscopy (cytology, histology [25], material sciences [11][14]) and in the areas where numerical images are generated, such as radiology or remote sensing. They have served also as a substitute for human vision in various industrial tasks (quality control [16], security). But new fields give rise to new theoretical issues and the boom of multi-media applications during the last decade has led to original concepts (connection [3][290][39], connected operators [26][27], geodesy [33][35]).


  It is worth quoting another event, which  occurred also during the nineties. The International Society for Mathematical Morphology (ISMM) was founded in 1993 in Barcelona, where the first international workshop on the subject took place. Since this time, five other symposia were held. In symbiosis with the activities of ISMM, the Pierre Soilles’s « morphological digest », transmitted by Internet means, has an audience of one thousand regular readers. But the number of the users of the method is incomparably larger, and several morphological operators, such as openings, hit-or-miss, etc.. are now everyday features in image processing.


   My voice in the choir


In 1965, in cooperation with G. Matheron, I laid the foundations of a new method, that we called Mathematical Morphology [7][8][9], and we created the "Centre de Morphologie Mathématique" within the Ecole des Mines de Paris three years later. The initial, and still valid, purpose was to link physical properties with textures, in fluid mechanics, sintering processes, etc... . First the supervisor of my PhD thesis, Georges Matheron, who was ten years older than me, gradually became my friend. Indeed, it is always difficult to situate one's work when it is closely linked with a partner with whom one has been associated for thirty-five years, and who departed two years ago.

A large part of my theoretical work in mathematical morphology reflects this dialogue. Most often, it acted as a counterpoint: a shared insight, or some conversation between us, suggested him new mathematical structures, and drove me to figure new operations on images, or sometimes new systems to implement them. Thus, his first texts about random sets correspond, on my part, to the hit-or-miss transform and to the first patent on the texture analyser (1965). One can easily draw up this way two parallel lists. They appear for example, just by skimming through the table of [3](1988). The order of the first ten chapters follows the chronological sequence of our works, signed either by one or the other, or by both of us.


During the last decade however, our common activity notably reduced. G. Matheron devoted his last efforts to the theory of compact lattices (1990-1996). On my part, I clearly oriented the research of the Centre de Morphologie Mathématique towards information related problems (telecom, image and video compression, data retrieval, content-based indexing). These applications led me to formulate the theory of morphological connections on lattices that is the core curriculum for a comprehensive class of filters and segmentations adapted to human vision.


My scientific activity during the period 1965-1985 is  gather together in the two volumes of "Image Analysis and Mathematical Morphology", Ac. Press (Vol. I, 1982 ; Vol. II, 1988). As many scientists getting on in age, I am the author, or co-author, of more than one hundred papers, and about ten books. During the last twenty years, my main contributions to mathematics and physics were the following


-          The theory of  morphological filtering, co-invented with G. Matheron, in 1983-1998,  which  constitutes an alternative to Fourier analysis [3];

-          the formulation of mathematical morphology in the framework of the complete lattices ( in cooperation with G. Matheron , 1984-1988) [3] [19] [29] ;

-          A study of the equi-continuous functions, with a view to processing images (1991-1998) [22] [28];

-          The concept of a connection, that generalizes connectivity ; it was initially set up morphological filtering (1988-2000), and that led on a theory of segmentation (2002-2004)  [39];

-          Some works on colour that hold on new luminance/saturation/hue systems and on a physical model for reflection/diffusion (2001-2004) [34][37][41];

-          A theory of interpolation which is based on some geodesics of Hausdorff distance (1998-2000) [30][32].




I am fascinated by the process that makes the world intelligible, and which, conversely, goes back from theory to an actual handling of things. That is the reason why I designed and patented image analysers, and why I launched several companies, for industrial control, for fingerprints, for quantitative microscopy, and others.



Texts most representative of my scientific work



  1. Image Analysis and Mathematical Morphology -  Vol. I (Ac. Press, London, 1982). 610 p.


  1. Eléments de théorie pour l'optique morphologique. 301p.(Thesis, Ecole des Mines, 1986)


  1. Image Analysis and Mathematical Morphology -  Vol. II. Theoretical Advances. (J. Serra Ed and main author) (Ac. Press, London, 1988). 411 p.


  1. Mathematical Morphology and its Applications to Signal Processing (J. Serra end Ph Salembier, Eds), Universitat Politecnica Catalunya, Barcelona, 1993. 274 p.


  1. Mathematical Morphology and its Applications to Image Processing. (J. Serra end P. Soille Ed) Kluwer Ac. Publ., Dordrecht, 1994. 383 p.


  1. Course on Mathematical Morphology -  First Part: Morphological Operators. Nov. 2001, 237p. - Second Part : Random sets and Functions march 2002 150p (Ecole des Mines )


7.       "Remarques sur une lame mince de minerai lorrain ". Bull. du B.R.G.M., Déc. 1967, 1-36.


8.       "Buts et réalisation de l'analyseur de textures ". R.I..M. Vol. 49, Sept. 1967, 1-14.


9.       "Morphologie Mathématique et granulométries en place". (with A. Haas and G. Matheron). Annales des Mines - Part I : Vol. XI, Nov. 1967, 736-753 - Part II : Vol. XII, Déc. 1967, 768-782.


10.   "Les structures gigognes : Morphologie Mathématique et interprétation métallogénique", Mineralium Deposita, 1968, No 3, 135-154


11.   "Use of covariograms for dendrite arm spacing measurements ", Trans. of  A.I.M.E., Vol. 245, Jan. 1969, 55-59.


12.   "La quantification en pétrographie" ; "Trois études de Morphologie Mathématique en géologie de l'Ingénieur", (with E.N. Kolomenski), Bull. de l'Association Internationale de Géologie de l'Ingénieur, N° 13, Krefeld, June 1976, 83-87.


13.   "Boolean Model and Random Sets", Comp. Graph. and Im. Proc.1980, Vol. 12, 99-126.


14.   "Descriptors of flatness and roughness", J. of Micr., June 1984, Vol. 134, N° 3,  227-243.


15.   "Contacts in random packing of spheres",(with Y. Pomeau)  J. of Micr.,  Vol. 138, N°2, May 1985, 179-185.


16.   "Morphological optics", J. of Micr., Jan. 1987, Vol. 145, N°1, 1-22.


17.   L'algorithme du tailleur (Reprise), April 1988, 9 p. [tech. Report EMP, N-07/88/MM]


18.   "Boolean random functions", Acta Stereologica, 1987, Vol. 6, Pt III, 325-330.


19.   "Contrasts and activity lattice ", (with F. Meyer) Signal Processing - Special Issue on Mathematical Morphology, Avril 1989, Vol. 16, N°4, pp. 303-317.


20.   "Boolean random functions",  J. of Micr., Vol. 156, N°1, Octobrer1989, 41-63.


21.   "An Overview of Morphological filtering" (with L.Vincent). IEEE Trans. on Circuits, Systems and Signal Processing, Vol. 11, N°1, 1992,  47-108.


22.   "Equicontinuous functions: a model for Mathematical Morphology", SPIE Conf.,Vol. 1769 San Diego'92, 1992,  252-263.


  1. "Dimensionality in image analysis" (with J.F. Rivest, J-F and P. Soille),  Journal of Visual Communication and Image Representation, Special Issue on Mathematical Morphology, June 1992, vol. 3, n° 2, 137-146.


24.   "Convergence, Continuity, and Iteration in Mathematical Morphology ". (with  H.J.A.M. Heijmans), J.V.C.I.R., Vol. 3, N°1, March 1992, 84-102.


  1. "Quantification of intersticial chronic renal damage by means of texture analysis" (with F. Moresco, D. Seron, J. Vitria, M.F. Colomé-Serra, N Parès) Kidney Int. Vol.46,1994,1721-1727 (Price of the best paper of the year in Kidney International) .


  1. "Theoretical aspects of morphological filters by reconstruction", (with J. Crespo and R. W. Schafer),  Signal Processing ,1995, Vol. 47, No 2, 201-225 .


  1. "Flat zones filtering, connected operators, and filters by reconstruction" (with Ph. Salembier). IEEE Transactions on Image Processing. August 1995, vol. 4, n° 8, 1153-1160 . 


  1. "Equicontinuous random functions" Journal of Electronic Imaging - Special Issue on Random Models in Imaging, 6, 1. January 1997, 7-15.


  1. "Connectivity on complete lattices", J.M.I.V., 1998. 9(3), 231-251.


  1. "Hausdorff distances and interpolations". Mathematical morphology and its Applications to Image and Signal Processing (Proc. ISMM'98), H.Heijmans and J. Roerdink Edts, Kluwer 1998,107-114.


  1. "Connections for sets and functions", Fund. Informaticae,  Vol 41, 1-2 Jan 2000, 147-186.


  1. "The Morphological-affine Object Deforrmation", (with M. Iwanowski) Mathematical morphology and its Applications to Image and Signal Processing (Proc. ISMM'2000), J. Goutsias, L. Vincent, D.S. Bloomberg, Edts Kluwer 2000, pp. 81-90.


  1. "Geodesy and connectivity in lattices" (with Ch. Ronse)  Fundamenta Informaticae,  Vol 46, issue 4, sept. 2001. 46(4): pp. 349-395.


  1. "Morphological Operators on the Unit Circle" (with A. Hanbury) IEEE Transactions on Image Processing, 10(12): pp 1842-1850 dec.2001


35.   Morphological descriptions using three-dimensional wavefronts. Image Analysis & Stereology  2002 ; 21 : 1-9  / ENSMP 18 p.


  1. "The birth of Mathematical Morphology" (with G. Matheron), in Mathematical Morphology, H. Talbot, R. Beare, Edts Proc. ISMM 2002, CSIRO Sydney 2002 pp. 1-16.


  1.  Colour Image Analysis in 3-D Polar coordinates" (with A. Hanbury) DAGM congress, 8p. 2003 


  1. "Automatic analysis of DNA microarray images using mathematical morphology" (with J. Angulo)  Bioinformatics. 19;  n°5; pp.553-562 Jan 2003


  1. "A lattice approach to Image Segmentation", submitted to J.M.I.V. jan. 2004, 87 p.


  1. "Viscous lattices" , to be publised in J.M.I.V. 17p, fev. 2003


  1. "Traitements des images de couleur en représentation Luminance/saturation/teinte" (avec J. Angulo) to be publised in “traitement du Signal”, avril 2004, 26 p.