Applying math to color our world

UC IRVINE (US)—A new mathematical model that replicates how the human eye sees color could allow hues to be more accurately replicated and may advance understanding of color blindness, say researchers at the University of California at Irvine.

Variations in how people perceive color and how colors appear on different displays have made it difficult to reproduce lifelike hues.

The model, developed by A. Kimball Romney, a social sciences research professor, yields a 99.4 percent match based on International Commission on Illumination standards.

“Light—and the way it’s reflected off different objects—creates the colors we see,” Romney explains. “But the way the human eye perceives these colors is different than the way they appear when represented mathematically.”

The human retina consolidates information received by its many millions of photoreceptor cells and transmits them down the optic nerve, Romney says, delivering information about the color of objects.

While the physiological implementation of color coding was not within the scope of the study, the new model could provide a means to predict how individuals perceive colors and provide clues to what goes awry for those with color blindness.

Researchers at National Tsing Hua University in Taiwan contributed to the study, which appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

UC Irvine news: