Area of investment and support

Area of investment and support: Digital signal processing

The theory, algorithms and architectures for processing data and signals and the information they carry.

Partners involved:
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)

The scope and what we're doing

The theory, algorithms and architectures for processing data and signals and the information they carry – for example, audio, video, image, speech, sonar, radar, medical, sensor, graph signals, big data, network data – for applications across science, technology and media.

This research area includes the theory and techniques concerned with detection, estimation, coding, transmission, enhancement, analysis, representation, recording, reconstruction, transformation and interpretation of signals, data and information.

This strategy reflects growth, which means capacity is now commensurate with this area’s importance, as well as its broad applicability and relevance to many other areas. The area’s focus seems to have narrowed, however, due to an emphasis on defence challenges. There is a need to take opportunities offered by applications in other sectors and developments arising in mathematics, for example.

Digital signal processing is a key underpinning area. As society becomes increasingly connected and reliant on electronic devices everywhere from the home to healthcare, the efficient nature of those connections and safe, secure communication between them assumes growing importance. Signal processing is the medium by which most of this will be carried out.

There is well-coordinated activity in the defence sector resulting from investment in 2013 in the £6 million University Defence Research Collaboration (UDRC). As a result, there has been a focus on priorities for defence-related research in this area, but there is an opportunity to address many other potential application areas, including health, autonomous systems, robotics, manufacturing, aerospace, security, communications, broadcasting and home entertainment, biology and environmental sciences, and the creative industries.

We aim to have stronger connections between researchers in this area and those across a range of application areas. This includes the research and user communities in communications and networks, vision, hearing and imaging, human-computer interaction, music and entertainment, healthcare, manufacturing and environment.

Enabling this will require links between digital signal processing researchers and those working in areas that could contribute to its future development – for example, machine learning, artificial intelligence, optical sensing and mathematics.

Why we're doing it

The growing availability of cheap and portable sensors is leading to an explosion of data in a wide variety of sectors. The challenge of handling, analysing and making sense of this data will require new technologies. Separating weak sensor-signals from background and other noise and then analysing them will present challenges for the signal processing community to solve if this potential is to be realised. The community has a key role to play and linking theory to practice will be important.

Digital signal processing in the UK has a vibrant, world-class research community and there is industry demand for PhDs with solid digital signal processing and machine learning skills.

Priorities for defence-related research in this area have been the subject of scrutiny with respect to the development of and support for the University Defence Research Collaboration (UDRC). There is, however, a need to recognise and understand the opportunities created by other sectors.

View evidence sources used to inform our research strategies.

Past projects, outcomes and impact

Last updated: 21 December 2022

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