Pete Prokopowicz's Work

You can view my resume and publications on line. I've also written some informal articles about technology. There's a small photo-tour of my old neighborhood in Highland Park, MI.

For the last 20 years or so I've been working in one way or another with the creation of software for systems infrastructure, internet applications, and scientific research.

Currently I'm working at Citadel, a Chicago hedge fund. I can't say much more than that.

For seven years before that, I was the CTO of Perceptual Robotics, a company I founded with Paul Cooper in 1996.  Perceptual Robotics was the first company in the world to sell live internet video systems, and remained the technology leader with five generations of its TrueLook product.  We sold Perceptual Robotics in the spring of 2002. It's currently owned and still sold by Silk Road Technologies, Inc.

Prior to Perceptual Robotics, I was a Research Scientist in the Computer Science Department at the University of Chicago, working in the Animate Agent lab.  Here we worked on the entire spectrum of mobile robotics - low-level control, task planning, computer vision, navigation, distributed algorithms, hand-eye co-ordination, tracking, and human-robot interaction. You can see selected publications on line. The high-performance distributed computer vision system I developed, Gargoyle, lives on in a new incarnation under the leadership of Josh Flachsbart at Northwestern University . 

While I was at the robotics lab in Chicago, the web came into being, and I launched a start-up with Michael Swain, a colleague at Chicago. We created NetHomes, one of the earliest do-it-yourself web publishing sites. At the time, it wasn't easy to get your own home page. AOL and other ISPs didn't include web space, and registering a domain name was complex. At NetHomes, our customers got a chunk of web space under the nethomes.com domain, and could upload and edit content through the browser. It was growing nicely, because we charged only $5 per month and it was easy to use. Unfortunately, we did not come up with the idea of charging nothing, which as it turned out was the key to success on the internet in almost all areas. Geocities, with the same service but no charge, came along later and was eventually bought by Yahoo for billions.

It was at the University of Chicago that I built the first controllable internet camera, LabCam, in 1994.  It attracted over a million visits in less than a year, which was a lot in the days of the Mosaic browser. 

Before Chicago, I was a PhD student at the Institute for Learning Sciences in the computer science department of Northwestern University.  Paul Cooper, my partner from Perceptual Robotics, was my PhD thesis advisor. Our lab investigated robotic vision, hand-eye co-ordination, and models of human perception.  My thesis described a method by which robots and animals could learn to use eye movements to create stable, wide-angle perceptions of the world around them.  I also developed a working model of retinal neuro-dynamics to compute adaptive background removal and motion detection.

Before starting my PhD program, I worked for several years at AT&T, in the Networking Technology Department of Bell Laboratories. That was from 1985 to 1989, when Bell Labs was just getting into TCP-IP; we were still very circuit-oriented back then. One project that I developed was a Unix kernel module that routed IP across Datakit virtual circuits, setting up and tearing down the circuits as needed. I also developed a network service that published an acronym dictionary on the internal Bell Labs network, allowing people to search or add to the database.

Before that, I did my undergraduate and master's work at the University of Michigan. I spent some time as an intern for Merit, Inc., which was building and running some of the first internet gateways in the state at the time. I helped developed the ICMP portion of the protocol stack, written in PDP-11 assembler.