It would be difficult to conceive of a fully automated system to process seismic data. The enormous complexity of geologic structures and the recorded data make such a system an unlikely near-term development. Similarly, it is difficult to imagine a generalized inversion formula for seismic reflection data, since the trade-off between the reflectivity and velocity structures of the subsurface is generally not completely constrained by the data. Now and for the foreseeable future, the expertise of a human analyst will be required for the accurate imaging of seismic data. This fact does not mean that the role of the machine will be minimized, however, as advances in imaging technique have more than kept pace with advances in hardware capability. But, until recently, the batch-processing paradigm in seismic imaging has been the only option. Currently, the seismic analyst uses his or her extensive experience and training only when the latest plot is generated by the processing software. ISIS is an attempt to change that paradigm by allowing for a much greater utilization of the analyst's abilities.
Other advantages of interactive imaging include the ability to process a seismic survey in just one or two days, and the generation of a self-documenting history of the imaging sequence (with the ability to return to any stage of the processing). ISIS should be an excellent educational tool, not only by providing students the ability to interact with data and imaging parameters, but also because it is programmable, providing a good platform for experimental algorithms.