Understanding Digital Signal Processing And Its Importance In Our Lives

Years back, when you talked to someone on the phone, getting a weak signal makes you hear nothing but static and crackling sounds.  But these days, with the advanced digital signal processing technology, this rarely happens.  We can talk to someone on our phones with clarity and less noise.  It seems like the person on the other line is just by your side.  That is one of the many advantages brought by digital signal processing technology.

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Signal Processing

But are you not wondering what exactly is this signal processing?

Signal processing is one department of electrical engineering wherein it pulls meaning from the wide range of data around us.  These processed data power our modern communication, cell phones, computers, through voice recognition.  Motion sensing capability of digital signal processing improves the quality of images we see on our screen and the high-quality photos we post on social media.  Nowadays, there are also vehicles that use signal processing in their technology.  The medical field also uses signal processing to deliver better healthcare services to the people.  The financial world also relies on signal processing in analyzing economic data.

There are more that use signal processing like the field of seismology and genomics.  Almost everything we use in our day to day lives uses signal processing.

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Classification Of Signal Processing

Signal processing is categorized into:

  • Analog – signals that are not digitized. The series of activities are conducted in continuous analog signals.
  • Discrete time – analyze values of variables that are occurring in distinct and separate “points in time.”
  • Continuous time – Unlike discrete time, continuous time analyzes variables to have a particular value for potentially only an infinitesimally (very small that there was no means to measure them) short amount of time.
  • Digital – processing of digitized discrete-time signals which is done by general-purpose computers or digital circuits.
  • Nonlinear – the analysis and processing of signals from nonlinear systems
  • Statistical – treats signals as stochastic processes (collection of random variables). It uses its statistical properties to perform signal processing tasks.

Digital Signal Processing

Digital signal processing or DSP is a software used to make digital communications more efficient and reliable.  It processes your input (digital signal) into a different digital signal.  It generally makes our lives more comfortable as it fixes problems and/or twist things to make the audio sounds better at the level we can understand.

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Of the signal processing categories, digital signal processing is the more efficient method of analyzing and modifying signals (audio, image, video, radar, sonar, financial, seismology, and biomedicine) to improve its performance.  The process applies various mathematical and computational algorithms to both analog and digital signals to produce a better quality of signals than that of the original.

How Does It Work?

Generally, the input to the DSP system should always be in the digital form.  So, if the signal received is analog, DSP first converts analog signals into digital signals with the use of an Analog-to-Digital Converter or ADC.  It then utilizes signal processing techniques and algorithms.

DSP detects errors, filter, and compress analog signals that are being transferred.  It is performed through a digital signal processor or any device capable of carrying out tasks that are DSP specific processing algorithms.

To better understand, imagine yourself talking to someone on the phone.  DSP can help add delay for the sound to bounce evenly between your speakers.  It also reduces noise and distortion so the sound received is much clearer.  When you’re playing your music, DSP software tells which frequencies go to your tweeter, woofer, or subwoofer to make your music and movies sound better.  It would be a disaster hearing sound that should be played by your tweeter being sent to the subwoofer.

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So much have changed over time regarding delivery of quality audio, speech recognition, and images.  Efficient digital signal processing in the world of finance speeds up data collection, storage, and processing.  All other fields of sciences (especially in the area of medicine) were able to deliver better services with the DSP technology.

Technology of signal processing continues to progress and revolutionize our lives.  We still have to see what awaits us in the years to come.


IEEE Signal Processing Society.  (2014, September 5).  What is signal processing?  Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EErkgr1MWw0

Wikipedia Contributors.  (2018, September 12).  Signal processing.  In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.   Retrieved 9:16, October 2, 2018, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Signal_processing.

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