Signal processing: How did we get to where we’re going?

Professor Oppenheim's research interests are in the general area of signal processing algorithms, systems, and applications.

In a retrospective talk spanning multiple decades, Professor Al Oppenheim looked back over the birth of digital signal processing and shared his thoughts on the future of the field.

Jane Halpern | Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

July 3, 2024

On May 24, Ford Professor of Engineering Al Oppenheim addressed a standing-room-only audience at MIT to give the talk of a lifetime. Entitled “Signal Processing: How Did We Get to Where We’re Going?”, Oppenheim’s personal account of his involvement in the early years of the digital signal processing field included a photo retrospective — and some handheld historical artifacts — that showed just how far the field has come since its birth at MIT and Lincoln Laboratory. Hosted by Anantha Chandrakasan, chief innovation and strategy officer, dean of engineering, and the Vannevar Bush Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, the event included a lively Q & A, giving students the chance to gain Oppenheim’s insight about the trajectory of this ever-growing field.

Al Oppenheim received a ScD degree in 1964 at MIT and is also the recipient of an honorary doctorate from Tel Aviv University. During his career, he has been a member of the Research Laboratory of Electronics and closely affiliated with MIT Lincoln Laboratory and with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. His research interests are in the general area of signal processing algorithms, systems, and applications. He is co-author of the widely used textbooks “Digital Signal Processing,” “Discrete-Time Signal Processing” (currently in its third edition), “Signals and Systems” (currently in its second edition), and most recently “Signals, Systems & Interference,” published in 2016. He is also the author of several video courses available online. He is editor of several advanced books on signal processing. Throughout his career he has published extensively in research journals and conference proceedings.

Oppenheim is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, an IEEE Life Fellow, and has been a  Guggenheim Fellow in France and a Sackler Fellow in Israel. He has received a number of IEEE awards for outstanding research, teaching, and mentoring, including the IEEE Kilby Medal; the IEEE Education Medal; the IEEE Centennial Award; the IEEE Third Millennium Medal; the Norbert Wiener Society award; and the Society, Technical Achievement, and Senior Awards of the IEEE Society on Acoustics, Speech and Signal Processing; as well as a number of research, teaching, and mentoring awards at MIT.


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