Yi Luo

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Yi Luo
Yi Luo headshot.jpg
Latest company Saudi Aramco
PhD Geophysics
PhD university University of Utah

SEG Reginald Fessenden Award

Yi Luo has played a dominant role in causing wave-equation traveltime inversion to become a standard practice in the exploration-geophysics community, with great impact on increasing the information content of seismic data. The number of published papers by Yi on the topic is staggering, and their impact is demonstrated by wide citations in the geophysical literature. Without question, Yi has advanced the science of seismic imaging and seismic interpretation by his contributions to wave-equation traveltime inversion.[1]

Citation for the SEG Reginald Fessenden Award 2014

Contributed by Gerard Schuster

“Paradigm-changing discoveries have notoriously limited early impact, precisely because the more a discovery deviates from the current paradigm, the longer it takes to be appreciated by the community. Indeed, although for most papers their early- and long-term citations correlate, this correlation breaks down for discoveries with the most long-term citations. Hence, publications with exceptional long-term impact appear to be the hardest to recognize on the basis of their early citation patterns.”

The above is cited from the World Wide Web about the impact of paradigm-changing papers that march to a different beat and lead to areas far from the paths well trampled by the herd. This type of paradigm shift is what Yi Luo accomplished in 1991 with his paper “Wave equation traveltime inversion,” published in Geophysics. In this case, ray-based traveltime tomography was a well-trampled area, but its use was limited by the high-frequency approximation. Yi’s paper showed that the wave equation can be used to invert the traveltimes of arrivals in the space-time domain and therefore overcomes the high-frequency approximation of ray-based tomography. Moreover, his methodology was generalized in his 1991 Geophysical Journal International paper so that any type of skeletonized data.


  1. SEG Honors and Awards Ceremony in Official Program and Exhibitors Directory, SEG Denver 26-31 October 2014 p.36-49.

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Yi Luo
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