Posted May 10, 2013 by Dr. Henri Montandon in bookreview

The best explanation of DSP


I submit that acronyms are a plague upon our civilization and should be banned. Some acronyms, by being daily in the media, such as HIV, are probably recognized by most people as… what? Something bad, certainly, but how many people know that HIV is the acronym for Human Immunodeficiency Virus?

Here is a study waiting to happen. Select 10 acronyms. Vary them by your intuition of how well known they are. Present them to 20 people – certainly your friends would do – and ask two questions. Tell me what the letters NAACP mean to you. What words do the letters stand for? Just wonderin’.

Astute readers will have noticed that despite my protestations, there is, in fact, an acronym in the title of this blog. D  S  P? DSP, don’t ya know, stands for digital signal processing. I further submit to you, that if acronyms should be banned, acronyms in titles should be doubly banned. The best explanation of DSP. Common usage suggests what I did indeed intend, that the title refers to what I have found to be the best explanation of digital signal processing. But grammatically, and if you happen to be Monty Python, the title could also be the best explanation for DSP qua DSP. Enough.

But what about coding I know some of you are asking. Coding is the key to modern communication. And aren’t acronyms sort of in the family of codes? Yes and no. Steven W. Smith is the book you want to read if you care to get a firm feeling for what science and engineering know about coding, as it applies to signal processing, which applies to…the brain, right?

From the book:

A basic premise of this book is that most practical DSP techniques can be
learned and used without the traditional barriers of detailed mathematics and
theory. The Scientist and Engineer’s Guide to Digital Signal Processing
is written for those who want to use DSP as a tool, not a new career.

As neuroscientists, we need to have a conceptual understanding of the various data analyses techniques that are available, and we need to have sufficient vocabulary to be able to ask explicit questions to the experts. This book by Steven W. Smith, Ph.D. provides these basics. He plots the lineage of digital signal processing like this:

Surely, many of these areas will  be familiar to students and researchers of consciousness science.

The book is available through Amazon , or for free download at





This article refers to the original 1997 edition. An updated edition, entitled Digital Signal Processing: A Practical Guide for Engineers and Scientists came out in 2002.






Dr. Henri Montandon