Teaching Computers To Replace Lost Sounds
Troy, N.Y. — Mike Savic can't recapture the 18 missing
minutes of the Watergate tapes, but he can teach computers to
deliver sounds that have been damaged in transmission. His
research will aid military communications, improve hearing
aids, and possibly find music's lost chords.
Savic, a professor of electrical, computer, and systems
engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y.,
is accomplishing the task by reversing previous work. He
previously taught computers to identify languages by
distinguishing sound patterns. Now, by starting with the
typical sounds of a known language — and the most popular
transitions between them — he can begin to reconstruct missing
sequences by looking at the most probable options.
Applications for this technology abound. For example, when a
pilot communicates with the control tower, a word or two may be
drowned out by thunder or some other loud noise. Almost
instantly, the computer would reconstruct the words to ensure
safe communication between the airport and the airliner.
Hearing aids could connect to a chip and work in the same
Savic envisions that the technology would be useful to
historians as well and would not be relegated to sound analysis
alone. Anything that has a pattern to it could benefit from the
technology. If historians had a page of an old handwritten text
with bits missing, and they knew the author, the computer could
reconstruct the text in the same way that it would reconstruct
Savic is working with graduate student Mike Moore and several
undergraduates on the project, which is funded by the U.S Air
Force. A patent was recently filed for this technology.
Contact: Patricia Azriel
Phone: (518) 276-6531