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Lenna is IT shorthand for a picture of model Lena Soderberg that has often been used to test image processing systems. The use of this image has endured in image processing experiments, despite some controversy over its use.
Many attribute the emergence of “Lenna” to the efforts of an assistant professor of electrical engineering at the University of Southern California in 1973, where the assistant professor, a graduate student and a lab manager arbitrarily used a Playboy magazine page to scan onto a Hewlett-Packard 2100 minicomputer.
Originally, the "Lenna" picture was used simply because it was available. In discussing its use long term, some note the composition and contour lines, as well as the mix of textures and level of detail in the image, along with the glossy magazine quality of the image, and its combination of flat regions and shading.
From there, the use of the picture became conventional in certain scientific journals. The model herself visited the IEEE conference in 2015 as the result of the image’s notoriety. Early efforts by Playboy to stop illegal use were followed by a grudging appreciation for the image’s appeal.
The picture was taken by Dwight Hooker for the centerfold of the November 1972 Playboy issue.