12.06.2006

fourier was a transformer

I can't really claim to be a math guy, I'm more like ... a math fan. I was always interested in the things math could do for me, but was never that great at the math itself. I flunked my fair share of algebra classes, never got my head quite wrapped around calculus, and first heard of a FFT when I installed SETI@Home and saw all those neat graphs with stats that meant absolutely nothing to me.

Since those days I've come to know and love the FFT through an interest in all the wonderful things it's brought me; JPEGs, MP3s, and my long time friend MPEG4. But way back when my programming adventures brought me to reading a RLE icon I got it in my head that multimedia was easy. When I started working with compressed file formats I thought for a short time that Huffman was the end. Then I learned the difference between encoding and compression. Like many of those moments of realization that come to a student of technology, it came with the grim reminder that things are always more complicated than I had realized.

So having said all that if you have a either the stomach for math or the tenacity to wade through some of it to further your understanding of tech, I suggest a look at "An Intuitive Explanation of Fourier Theory". Spotted it on Furl tonight and found it very clear and well ... intuitive! It demonstrates visually the application of the frequency space conversion that nearly all other introductory texts gloss over when describing how one of the fundamental processes of media compression works.
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