Spring and Signals

Photo of Dr. Saha and her husband wearing blue volunteer t-shirts

A Letter from Dr. Ashirbani Saha 

Dr. Saha is the first holder of the BRIGHT Run Breast Cancer Learning Health System Chair, a permanent research position established by the BRIGHT Run in partnership with McMaster University. 

Hello BRIGHT Run Family, 

Spring is around. It is a great time of the year. I am happy to see so many beautiful birds. I find some of these busy in building their nests, others tweeting, flying, searching, or resting. 

 It is that time of the year when we celebrate the festival of colours, called ‘Holi,’ in many parts of the world, especially in India. The spirit of Holi aligns with love and harmony and arrival of a new season. Every year, I look forward to this event as an opportunity to connect with family and friends. This year, St. Patrick’s Day and Holi were celebrated a day apart, and colour is an important part of both of these celebrations. 

These events are yearly. “Once per year” is the “frequency.” The “period” of the event is “a year.” The “duration” is “one day.’   These details are important when we take an engineering look at events to gather signals, which are made from information on our events of interest. 

Simple to complex patterns of signals can be analyzed/synthesized mathematically. A subfield of Electrical Engineering, called signal processing has enriched literature and many innovations related to this. 

Modern living owes a lot to this area, as the majority of electromagnetic appliances/devices (TVs, music players, thermostat, etc.) consists of the fruits of signal processing. However, it is important to remember that signal processing is not limited to electrical signals (such as voltage, current) only. 

As we moved to the digital era, digital signals emerged, and phenomenal work went into measurement, storage, and communication (transmission and reception) since 1940s. This gave rise to a new field called information theory.  

We are basically immersed in the benefits of this research. The efficient and low-cost ways of modern telecommunication (sending and receiving large amounts of data by electromagnetic means, without error) is a gift of this work. You can find some more applications here: https://www.britannica.com/science/information-theory/Applications-of-information-theory. 

Every year in April, we celebrate the birthday of the father of information theory. He is Claude Elwood Shannon and is considered the brain behind laying the foundation for the modern information age.  

More reasons to celebrate Spring as an engineer! 

With best wishes,