In every field there are books that just stand apart. They are so well written that they change your opinion about the subject. In fact, with most mathematical ideas if you understand them well, they no longer seem tedious, or hard. Richard Lyons book “Understanding Digital Signal Processing” is just such a book. I remember coming across it on Amazon when Amazon was young. This was before Amazon had a “look inside” feature and one was generally leery of ordering things on line. There was a two page introduction to the book which I read. The writing style was impressive and so I ordered the book. I still remember looking through and thinking this looks fun! It had more pictures than it had formulas!
I read the first chapter that night and felt exhilarated. I had my first aha moment in DSP. Although I was out of graduate school for several years at that time, I felt that I had never really understood the subject. Yes, I could do the transforms for homework etc., but understood, not really. In this book, Lyons starts with discrete signals, goes through sampling and aliasing in the first chapter. Each chapter build gently on the previous. All just a model of clarity and beauty. I particularly loved the filter chapter, with such easy to understand exposition of what the equation meant, the forward part and the reverse part. We all love pictures and the book’s strength is its ability to communicate not just in words but also in figures. From DFT to filter design to DSP algorithms, all come alive as explained by Lyons.
I think I did read the whole book in about a week. I then flipped to the end to see who this guy was. It turned out that he worked locally at TRW. So hesitatingly, I called him to tell him how much I loved his book. He became my role model and a friend. I had been writing papers and felt that this is the way engineering should be taught. This is the way engineering books should be written. With the student in mind. No hiding behind formulas.
I recently picked up the book again as I am writing some papers on FFTs. And despite being somewhat smarter today than 15 yeas ago, I find the book still a model of engineering writing. Just a plain excellent book, deserving of all the superlatives I can muster. Fantastic, etc. etc. If you are a student in this field or an engineer, I recommend that you add this book to your library immediately.
If you have read this book, would love to hear what you think of it.