Signal Processing is an area of electrical engineering and applied mathematics that deals with operations on or analysis of signals in either detached or continuous time to perform useful operations on these signals. Signals of interest can include sound imagesm time-varying measurement values and sensor data; for example, biological data, such as electrocardiograms, control system signals, telecommunication transmission signals, such as radio signals and many others. Because of this, the applications of signal processing are widespread; fields that require signal processing include multimedia broadcast communications, the Internet and consumer industries.

The UCT Signal Processing and Inverse Problems research group is currently covering a range of areas, including communications signal processing, sonar signal processing and digital image processing.

An example of the applications for this research would be looking at ways to create digital maps of the earth’s surface. Through the use of digital image processing techniques, one can create images for a variety of uses, such as the monitoring of development and changes of natural resources.

Inverse problems refer to the difficulty in the restructuring of images from a measurement taken. Signal processing, for example, would be a method to solve an inverse problem. Using these two processes in combination can result in technology and processes with extremely innovative implications for fields, such as medical digital communication and sound technology.

Research by UCT into the medical applications for signal processing and inverse problems includes X-ray and ultra-sound imaging, as well as heretofore unthought-of methods for mapping the human body. Substantial signal processing and inverse problems research at UCT is also being done in the area of industrial tomography – creating images of an object’s interior via injection of an electrical current into the object of investigation; signal processing methods are used to turn the data gathered from such a process into something useful.

Further new areas being explored by the UCT research group include signal conditioning noise removal from audio signals and speech recognition.