Oral-History:James Kaiser

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About James Kaiser

Dr. James Kaiser was born in 1929 in Piqua, Ohio. He attended the University of Cincinnati, where he earned his electrical engineering degree in 1952. He then entered graduate school at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), from which he received his S.M. and Sc.D. in 1954 and 1959, respectively. Kaiser's early work in signal processing was at Bell Laboratories, which he joined in 1959. In the Bell Labs Research Department Dr. Kaiser worked on projects such as acoustic concentration with microphones, improving speech signal processing systems, developing filter design algorithms, and spectral window research. His focus was on filter design, particularly in those which would convert analog data to digital for various communications purposes. In the 1980s, he concentrated on nonlinear approaches to filter design, and transferred to the BellCore division of Bell Labs. He became an IEEE Fellow in 1973 [fellow award for "contributions in digital signal processing and the synthesis of digital filters"], and has received many other IEEE honors and awards, including several from the IEEE Acoustics, Speech, and Signal Processing Society. These include the ASSP Technical Achievement Award (1977), Meritorious Service Award (1978), and Society Award (1981). He is a recipient of the IEEE's Centennial Medal, and the W.R.G. Baker Prize (1995). He has been very active and has held several offices within the IEEE, including the Editorial Board. He received the Bell Laboratories Distinguished Technical Staff Award in 1982.



The interview spans Kaiser's path breaking career, especially his digital signal processing (DSP) work with Bell Labs and BellCore. Kaiser discusses his graduate work at MIT, his association with the LearJet Company, and his decision to join Bell Laboratories, before describing his experiences with Bell Labs and his contributions to the DSP field. He describes his work with acoustics signal processing, including his development of filter design algorithms, his efforts to improve speech signal processing systems, his work with the block diagram compiler (BLODI), and the uses of multiplexers. Kaiser also explains his work with computers in the DSP field, the difficulties with strictly linear DSP models, and the major areas in signal processing today. He outlines DSP uses for the musical and film-making fields, and the necessity of knowing the scientific basis of practical DSP applications. The interview concludes with Kaiser's discussion of his recent interest in image enhancement.