Advances in high performance computing, communication, and storage technologies, as well as emerging large-scale multimedia applications, have made the design and development of multimedia information systems one of the most challenging and important directions of research and development within computer science. The payoffs of a multimedia infrastructure are tremendous- it enables many multi-billion dollar-a-year application areas. Examples are medical information systems, electronic commerce, digital libraries, (like multimedia data repositories for training, education, broadcast and entertainment,) special purpose databases, (such as face/fingerprint databases for security,) and geographical information systems storing satellite images, maps, etc.