Signal Processing, the Science Behind our Digital Life




Prior to the development of the A/D convertors and rediscovery of the Fast Fourier Transform by Cooley and Tukey in 1965, signal processing was applied to few signals such as audio and radar. Since then the field grew rapidly and more theories and technologies including neural networks, wavelets, compressive sampling and learned dictionaries emerged, The word “signal” now, do not only refer to some physical manifestation of information that changed with time and/or space, but also include other symbolic or abstract information formats like a sequence of millions of the four symbols of the genetic code (the DNA bases A, C, G, T) arranged into genes and noncoding sections. Examples of signals include audio, video, speech, language, image, multimedia, sensor, communication, geophysical, sonar, radar, biological, chemical, molecular, genomic, medical, musical, finance, data, or sequences of attributes, or numerical quantities etc.  The word” processing” encompasses the employment of fundamental theory, mathematical, statistical, computational, heuristic, and/or linguistic representations, formalisms, and techniques. The applications involve filtering, coding, transmitting, estimating, detecting, inferring, modeling, analysis, synthesis, discovery, recovery, sensing, acquisition, extraction, learning,  representing  or reproducing signals by digital or analog devices, techniques, or algorithms, in the form of software, hardware, or firmware.  The talk will discuss an overview of signal processing with applications and methods that reflect the richness, diversity and scope of the field.



Rabab K. Ward is the President of the IEEE Signal Processing Society. She is a professor emeritus in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the University of British Columbia, UBC, where she was with the Vice-President Research Office as the natural sciences and engineering research coordinator from 2008 till 2014.  Dr. Ward’s research interests are mainly in the areas of signal, image, and video processing. She has made contributions in the areas of signal detection, encoding, compression, recognition and restoration, and their applications to TV, medical images( MRI, Mammography , Computed Tomography) infant cry signals and brain-computer interfaces. She has published over 180 refereed journal papers, 330 refereed conference papers and holds eight patents related to cable television, picture monitoring, measurement and noise reduction.  Applications of her work have been transferred to U.S. and Canadian industries.  She was the Principal Investigator of the $22.2 million CFI/BCKDF award that resulted in a new building at UBC  (2006) that housed the most modern equipment in all areas related to human-centered technologies.  Dr. Ward received  many top awards including the IEEE Signal Processing Society top award “The Society Award”, British Columbia’s top engineering award “The RA McLachlan Memorial Award”, the top award of the Confederation of University Faculty Association of BC,  the UBC Killam Research Prize, the Career Achievement Award of CUFA BC, The Paradigm Shifter Award from The Society for Canadian Women in Science and Technology, British Columbia’s APEGBC top engineering award “The RA McLachlan Memorial Award”, UBC Killam Research Prize, UBC Killam Senior Mentoring Award, the YWCA Woman of Distinction Award, plus several other awards.  Dr. Ward is Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, the IEEE, the Canadian Academy of Engineers and the Engineering Institute of Canada. She was the General Chair of IEEE ICIP 2000 and Co-Chair of IEEE ICASSP 2013.