Shining Bright, the Golden Era of Signal Processing

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10 years of news and resources for members of the IEEE Signal Processing Society

Shining Bright, the Golden Era of Signal Processing

By Li Deng, Editor-in-Chiefof IEEE Signal Processing Magazine

Three years ago, I wrote the inaugurating editorial, “Embracing a new golden age of signal processing,” [1] for our IEEE Signal Processing Magazine (SPM). Today, while writing this departing editorial and in representing our entire SPM editorial team, I can proudly say the golden era not only arrived for us to embrace and celebrate, but is shining bright and is here to stay.

My service for SPM started in 2004, when Prof. Ray Liu, then editor-in-chief, invited me to be the lead guest editor for a special issue. Since then, SPM has been the focus of my service to our Signal Processing Society (SPS) and to the SP community. When working as an editorial board member and area editor under the leadership of my predecessor, Prof. Shih-Fu Chang, I witnessed the immeasurable vibrancy, invigorating energy, and unbounded intellectual landscape of our SP community. During 2007-2008, with Prof. Chang’s guidance, I initiated the effort in expanding the scope and technical fields of interest of SP [2]. This led to substantial broadening of the article coverage in our SPM along the two largely orthogonal axes of “signal” and “processing” [3]. In the meantime, while helping Prof. Chang to solicit potential papers for SPM, I interacted with several pioneers in various technical areas pertinent to SP. These interactions provided me with the opportunity to learn, analyze, and appreciate a wide range of SP-enabled future wants and needs (e.g., [4]).  In my own work environment within a major computer software company, SP methods and applications as defined in the expanded scope had also permeated in every visible and invisible corner. Our community had clearly come to realize that while SP played an integral part in the technological development of television, telephone, wireless communication, multimedia, space travel, and computers, etc., more exciting challenges and opportunities would lie ahead for SP in intelligent communication, natural human-machine interface, universal language translation, bio-molecular information processing, efficient generation/distribution/consumption of “green” energy, intelligent sensor and human networks, automated navigation, global financial market analysis, and much more [4][5]. All these, together with the numerous SP-empowered technological advancements --- e.g., mobile devices becoming ubiquitous, multicore and cloud computing going mainstream, web search turning intelligent--- already brewing in the midst of economic recession three years ago, heralded a new tech boom and a bright era ahead in our field of SP.

Indeed, the past three years have witnessed tremendous growth in signal processing at the global scale. I was honored to lead an energetic, diligent, creative, and productive editorial team to embrace the vitality of our SP community in this golden age. Our SPM served not only as an educational tool but also as a catalyst in advancing SP technology. Our articles exemplified and embodied technical rigor and new trends of SP, as well as the extraordinary variety of SP applications in our daily lives as well as their societal impact.

Our editorial team took a unique approach to running SPM. We took risk, pushed the limit, and we were eager to innovate and try things that had never been done before. We embraced the motto that it is more fun being movers and shakers than being followers and being incremental. We held the attitude that if we fail, let it be but if we succeed, we would win big. (Don’t we all run research groups and do SP research in the same way?)  One significant innovation we engendered over the past two years is the translation editions of SPM into Chinese and Brazilian Portuguese, where we saw huge emerging SP engineering bases and potential explosive readership growth. This is the first time in history that IEEE publications have done Chinese translation. Refs [6]-[10] are just a few examples of a larger pool of the articles we have translated to Chinese and Brazilian Portuguese. We listened closely to our readers in Asian-Pacific countries and followed their feedbacks with side-by-side English-Chinese translation. This enables them not only to read the technical content better and more efficiently in their native language, but more importantly, to write better English articles. To accommodate the difference between simplified and traditional Chinese styles that are both popular in Asian-Pacific countries, we created a three-column glossary for technical terms of SP in English and in the corresponding simplified and traditional Chinese pairs. As an example of the impact of this “side” glossary project within our much larger translation project, IEEE is currently planning to extend our approach to all IEEE-relevant technical terms that are far beyond the scope of our SP.

Another important innovation we have created and pushed hard is the use of Tag for direct and convenient access to multimedia supplementary material via smartphones that go with the readers everywhere. It opens a new way of linking and integrating the printed material with the author-created online content. It also opens a new opportunity for creative design of the online supplementary material (e.g., animated figures that would drastically enhance the current static figures in print, and the “just-in-time” contextual appendix, references, or video/audio/handwriting tutorials, etc.). Other notable innovations we have instituted include the (on-going) cross-society collaboration to attract wider audiences, digital delivery of our articles, special issues focusing on emerging SP applications [5], and the publications of unique types of articles. Examples of the latter are the papers reporting vastly visible SP applications (e.g., [11[12]), highlighting research directions (e.g., [13][14][15]) and SP technical trends (e.g., [4][15]), and focusing on SP education or history with a lecture-notes style (e.g., [16]-[20]).

Our approach turned out to be quite successful. In the 2011 IEEE annual report I just received, our Chinese translated edition of SPM is prominently featured with the strong endorsement: “… The first IEEE publication in Chinese, this special issue of IEEE Signal Processing Magazine was distributed in 2010 at the society’s International Conference on Image Processing in Hong Kong,… This Chinese translation is the first step in the society’s efforts to enhance its visibility among non-English speaking audiences. …the Magazine ranks highest among all electrical and electronics journals.” Indeed, our SPM’s accomplishments are reflected in the Thomson Reuters’ Journal Citations Reports (JCR) released in late June 2011, which is generally accepted as the world’s most influential source of information about peer-reviewed publications. SPM’s Impact Factor (IF) has dramatically increased from 3.76 in 2008 (ranked ninth) to 4.91 in 2009 (moved to first place) and further to 5.86 in 2010 (continues to rank first). Comprehensive compilation in the JCR results shows that our SPM’s top rank is among all publications in the broad Electrical and Electronics Engineering field (247 of them in total, including 147 of IEEE’s) two most recent years in a row. The long-term IF of SPM also jumped from 5.95 (in 2009) to 6.89 (in 2010) as a result of highly cited, most recent SPM papers. Further, the Article Influence Score of SPM continues to rank at the number-one top among 247 journals, again two most recent years in a row --- 2.48 in 2009, jumping to 3.18 in 2010. This is an outstanding record and an honor brought to our society, which in turn validates our novel approach to running the Magazine.

Behind the success and top-ranking honor above are our full editorial team members as real heroes. Dan Schonfeld (area editor of special issues), Antonio Ortega (feature articles), Ghassan AlRegib (column/forum), and Jane Wang (together with Min Wu, as e-newsletter area editors) deserve special recognition and appreciation. Their dedicated service, infectious enthusiasm, and selfless sacrifice over the past three years have made our SPM what it is today. They, together with their associate editor teams, have been tirelessly working with me towards the common and clear goal of making our SPM the best among the best. Thanks also go to our SPM editorial board for their guidance in reviewing white papers, providing feedbacks, and setting directions. All our editors and board members have been involved in identifying hot topics, recruiting the best authors to write on these hot topics, co-ordination of writing and reviewing, guarding the paper acceptance threshold, and making suggestions on how to innovate. And, of course, the fundamental credits go to the authors, whose high-quality papers made the impact possible, as well as the guest editors, reviewers, and readers. Some authors not only wrote the original papers in English but also sacrificed their time helping with proof reading of the translated versions or even involving the help from their colleagues who know the native languages.

Here I wish to express my special, wholehearted thanks to Linda Cherry, in her role of SPS Publications Manager, and her staff for the tremendous contributions, especially those to the SPM translation work. Linda also spear-headed the efforts on cutting edge design of our SPM covers, on digital delivery of our articles, and on the industry-friendly articles which are extremely popular. Her enthusiasm, creativity, dedication, and work ethic are just admirable. I counted over 2200 emails with her during past two years within my email folder just on our Chinese translation project alone.  The managing editors of SPM, Geri Krolin-Taylor and Jessica Barrague, and art director, Janet Dudar, once again demonstrated a high level of professionalism in processing our highly dynamic technical content and in bringing it to the readers in the best possible way no matter how much time or effort it takes.

I am also greatly indebted to Profs. Shih-Fu Chang and Ray Liu, my 1st and 2nd level predecessors, who advised and helped me not only during the EIC transition time, but throughout my term whenever I needed them. Ray even re-joined our editorial board last year to facilitate and formalize his advisory role. They passed to me the SPM already in an excellent shape, without which our current accomplishments would be near impossible. Finally, my appreciation goes to Prof. Ali Sayed, in his role of SPS VP-Publications, and Mercy Kowalczyk, SPS Executive Director, for their advice over the years, especially for constantly reminding me and our team to watch the established rules and procedures.

After this issue, the SPM will be in the capable hands of our new editorial team. Let me take this opportunity to welcome Prof. Abdelhak Zoubir, who will soon serve as the new editor-in-chief.  He will be joined by new area editors and associate editors whom he will announce soon. Given that the technologies we created and continue to create are changing the world at a pace never matched in history, there is no doubt in my mind that their collective wisdom, vision, and leadership will continue our SPM’s current successful momentum, ensure long lasting of the golden age of our field and our SPM, and move SPM to an even higher level with more innovations to come. Indeed, the opportunity --- ubiquity of SP in our modern information age --- welcomed the advent of the golden era but innovations make it to sustain and to shine brighter.

Since seven years ago when I started my voluntary work for SPM, my service to the SP community has never been more exciting. The past three short years have been truly exhilarating, but the term for me and my team is over and SPM needs new blood. With still full energy and desire to continue serving our society, I thank our SPS Publications Board for appointing me as the new editor-in-chief for IEEE Transactions on Audio, Speech, and Language Processing (T-ASLP). This allows me to return to my home research area, continuing my service to T-ASLP that has been interrupted by my work for SPM for several years. This is a new prime opportunity to explore different kinds of innovations in the new capacity and in a new era of the even faster pacing technological age. So we will still be in touch, especially for those SPM audiences who also read T-ASLP. Thank you all for sharing the exciting three past years with me and thank you also in advance for supporting the new SPM management team.


[1] L. Deng. “Embracing a new golden age of signal processing,” IEEE Sig. Proc. Mag., Vol. 26(1), Jan. 2009.

[2] L. Deng. “Expanding the scope of signal processing,” IEEE Sig. Proc. Mag., Vol. 25(3), May 2008.

[3] L. Deng. “Cross-pollination in signal processing technical areas,” IEEE Sig. Proc. Mag., Vol. 26(6), Nov. 2009.

[4] J. Treichler. “Signal processing: A view of the future, Parts I and II.” IEEE Sig. Proc. Mag., Vol 26(2), March,May 2009.

[5] D. Schonfeld. “The evolution of signal processing,” IEEE Sig. Proc. Mag.,Vol. 27(6), Sept. 2010.

[6] E. Candes et al. “An introduction to compressive sampling,” IEEE Sig. Proc. Mag.,Vol. 25(2), March, 2008.

[7] M. Zibulevsky et al. “L1-L2 optimization in signal and image processing,” IEEE Sig. Proc. Mag.,Vol. 27(3), May, 2010

[8] M. Wernick et al. “Machine learning in medical imaging,” IEEE Sig. Proc. Mag.,Vol. 27(4), July, 2010

[9] X. He et al. “Discriminative learning in sequential pattern recognition,” IEEE Sig. Proc. Mag.,Vol. 25(5), Sept, 2008.

[10] D. Blei et al. “Probabilistic topic models,” IEEE Sig. Proc. Mag.,Vol. 27(6), No., 2010.

[11] R. Schneiderman. “DSPs are helping to make it hard to get lost,”   IEEE Sig. Proc. Mag., Vol. 26(6), Nov. 2009.

[12] R. Schneiderman. “SETI --- Are we (still) alone?” IEEE Sig. Proc. Mag., Vol. 27(2), March 2010

[13] J. Baker, et al. “Research developments and directions in speech recognition and understanding,” IEEE Sig. Proc. Mag.,  Vol. 26(3), May, 2009.

[14] J. Baker, et al. “Updated MINDS report on speech recognition and understanding,” IEEE Sig. Proc. Mag., Vol. 26(4), July, 2009.

[15] Alle-jan van der Veen et al., “‘Trends’ expert overview sessions revived at ICASSP 2011,” IEEE Sig. Proc. Mag., Vol. 28(5), Sept, 2011.

[16] P. Hart. “How the Hough transform was invented,” IEEE Sig. Proc. Mag., Vol. 26(6), Nov, 2009.

[17] D. Yu et al. “Solving nonlinear estimation problems using Splines,” IEEE Sig. Proc. Mag., Vol. 26(6), Nov, 2009.

[18] L. Xiao et al. “A geometric perspective of large-margin training of Gaussian models,” IEEE Sig. Proc. Mag., Vol. 27(6), Oct., 2010.

[19] P. Prandoni et al. “From Lagrange to Shannon … and back: Another look at sampling,” IEEE Sig. Proc. Mag., Vol. 26(5), Sept., 2009.

[20] J. Allen et al. “Speech perception and cochlear signal processing,”  IEEE Sig. Proc. Mag., Vol. 26(4), July, 2009.


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