Close Enough to Correct: Approximate Computing

IEEE CTN Issue: May 2017

With the release of the Google Tensor Processing Unit paper we discovered that the cloud services folks were seriously thinking about fixed point computation. This is interesting because the DSP world, including the part that serves the wireless space, has made a significant effort to move towards floating point over the last decade. We could discuss the reasons for this switch at length but it is clear that it mostly comes down to ease of programming and a desire to minimize the power and area of computation. So this month I wanted to examine other ways of being approximately correct and saving some power and area in the process, aka approximate computing. In this article Prof. Ben Schaefer of UT Dallas will give us a quick look at how things work and the risks involved in ripping out gates and wires in an attempt to save some power. Your comments and questions are, as always, welcome.

The Death and Possible Rebirth of DSP

IEEE CTN Issue: April 2017

Recently my team was looking for some contract labor to write some really tight DSP (that's Digital Signal Processor which we shall call DSPors going forward) code. Trouble is there are few people left that are able do this kind of work and it got me thinking about how DSP (that's Digital Signal Processing which we shall call DSPing from now on) is evolving and whether the new generation of communication engineers will be up to the challenge. I turned to Will Strauss, the famous tracker of all things DSP and he suggested I talk to a mutual friend, Gene Frantz who, if not quite the father of DSP, certainly did a lot of babysitting and diaper changing in his role at Texas Instruments (remember Speak and Spell? Yup, that was him). Gene became the only Principal Fellow at TI for a while and is now a Professor at Rice University. So well qualified to the challenge. Anyway, this is what we came up with. Comments welcome as always.

Will Communications Theory Finally Make Itself Redundant? A View from the Academic Trenches

IEEE CTN Issue: March 2017

This month we bring you a view from the front line of communications theory education on the future of our profession. Petar gives us an insightful, personal view of the future as we head towards connecting everything. Is the job nearly done? Will our profession become a shell of its former self? And how do we rejuvenate our field of study? I’m sure everyone will have an opinion. Feel free to share.

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