Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A TLA That Has Changed Our World: DSP

We used to live in an analog world. Phone calls were made over wires where the signal was a fluctuating voltage. Sound was recorded and turned into little wiggles that ended up pressed into vinyl. Photographs were the chemical reaction of silver to light chemically fixed to be visible and permanent.

Now we live in a digital age. Sounds and pictures are a collection of numbers. Numbers that can be copied perfectly. Numbers that can be analyzed, altered, or changed.

A world in which the TLA (or three letter acronym) DSP is more important than you might think. DSP stands for digital signal processing. It covers a large number of domains. From how to convert the analog to the digital and back. To how to manipulate and alter those collections of numbers any number of purposes.

Watch video on your television from a DVD or Blu-Ray player? Thank digital compression techniques that take video and squeeze it to fit onto a small disk. Listen to CDs? Thank the equipment that records sounds into numbers and allows music producers to mix everything together until it sounds perfect. Hate the sound of autotune where a singers voice is pitched up or down to hit a specific note? Blame another type of manipulation that's possible with the techniques of DSP.

In case you want to learn a lot more about the technology, the maths, the science, and the applications of the technology let me point you to the online DSP Guide. A large and growing work that covers much of the world of digital signal processing. The guide is a book that is available online as well as a hardcover. It's a great starting point for diving into the world of DSP. So whether you want to see how people have changed the world by changing strings of numbers using DSP or whether you want to start changing the world by changing those strings of numbers, the DSP Guide is the place to start.

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