Skip to main content

Les Atlas

  • Professor


Professor,Electrical & Computer Engineering
Adjunct Professor, Computer Science and Engineering


Les Atlas joined UW Electrical & Computer Engineering as an assistant professor in 1984 at the University of Washington. He has been a leader in signal processing research and educational activity in the Pacific Northwest, co-chairing the IEEE International Conference on Acoustics, Speech, and Signal Processing in 1989 with Xuedong Huang of Microsoft.

Atlas’ research has had an impact on signal processing for dynamical systems, time-frequency analysis and nonstationary statistics, with applications in streaming data, acoustics, machine monitoring, sensor arrays, speech processing and auditory sciences. His publication “Improving generalization with active learning” was foundational to the machine learning areas of active learning and selective sampling.

Atlas’ graduate students have also had tremendous impact — such as the first publication on trained (linear) convolutional neural networks for temporal signals, securing top faculty positions, initiating machine learning at Google, receiving multiple Technical Emmy Awards and founding companies such as Redfin.

Atlas’ research is funded by the Army Research Office, the Office of Naval Research and the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation.

Research Interests

Signal processing for dynamical systems, time-frequency analysis, neural networks and how they best generalize, nonstationary statistics, with applications in streaming data, acoustics, machine monitoring, sensor arrays, speech and auditory sciences.

Representative Publications

  • S. Wisdom, T. Powers, J. Hershey, J. Le Roux, L. Atlas, "Full Capacity Unitary recurrent Neural Networks," Proc. NIPS 2016. [ Link ]
  • D Cohn, L Atlas, and R Ladner, “Improving generalization with active learning,” Machine learning 15 (2), pp. 201-221, 1994.
  • S. Wisdom, G. Okopal, L. Atlas, and J. Pitton, “Voice Activity Detection Using Subband Noncircularity,” Proc. IEEE ICASSP, Brisbane, Austrailia, April 2015. T Homma, L Atlas, and R Marks, “An Artificial Neural Network for Spatio-Temporal Bipolar Patters: Application to Phoneme Classification,” Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 1: 31–40, 1988.
  • S. Wisdom, T. Powers, L. Atlas, and J. Pitton, “Enhancement and Recognition of Reverberant and Noisy Speech by Extending Its Coherence,” arXiv:1509.00533, Sep. 2015.
  • G. Okopal, S. Wisdom, and L. Atlas, “Speech Analysis with the Strong Uncorrelating Transform,” IEEE/ACM Transactions on Audio, Speech, and Language Processing, vol. 23, no. 11, pp. 1858–1868, Nov. 2015.
  • B. Ekin, L. Atlas, M. Mirbagheri, and A. Lee, "An Alternative Approach for Auditory Attention Tracking Using Single-Trial EEG,” Proc. IEEE ICASSP, Shanghai, China, March 2016.

Research Labs

Research Areas



  • Ph.D. Electrical Engineering, 1984
    Stanford University
  • M.S. Electrical Engineering, 1979
    Stanford University
  • B.S. Electrical Engineering, 1977
    University of Wisconsin