Signal Processing: How Did We Get to Where We’re Going?

In a retrospective talk spanning multiple decades, Professor Al Oppenheim looks back over the birth of Digital Signal Processing and shares his thoughts on the future of the field.

On May 24th, 2024, 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 accounting 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, Dean of the MIT School of Engineering, the event included a lively Q & A, giving students the chance to gain Oppenheim’s insight about the trajectory of this ever-growing field. 

Professor Oppenheim is Ford Professor of Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He received the Sc.D. 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 RLE 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 coauthor 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, and editor of several advanced books on signal processing. Throughout his career he has published extensively in research journals and conference proceedings.

Dr. 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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