Linear predictive coding

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Linear predictive coding (LPC) is a tool used mostly in audio signal processing and speech processing for representing the spectral envelope of a digital signal of speech in compressed form, using the information of a linear predictive model. It is one of the most powerful speech analysis techniques, and one of the most useful methods for encoding good quality speech at a low bit rate and provides extremely accurate estimates of speech parameters.



LPC starts with the assumption that a speech signal is produced by a buzzer at the end of a tube (voiced sounds), with occasional added hissing and popping sounds (sibilants and plosive sounds). Although apparently crude, this model is actually a close approximation of the reality of speech production. The glottis (the space between the vocal folds) produces the buzz, which is characterized by its intensity (loudness) and frequency (pitch). The vocal tract (the throat and mouth) forms the tube, which is characterized by its resonances, which give rise to formants, or enhanced frequency bands in the sound produced. Hisses and pops are generated by the action of the tongue, lips and throat during sibilants and plosives.

LPC analyzes the speech signal by estimating the formants, removing their effects from the speech signal, and estimating the intensity and frequency of the remaining buzz. The process of removing the formants is called inverse filtering, and the remaining signal after the subtraction of the filtered modeled signal is called the residue.

The numbers which describe the intensity and frequency of the buzz, the formants, and the residue signal, can be stored or transmitted somewhere else. LPC synthesizes the speech signal by reversing the process: use the buzz parameters and the residue to create a source signal, use the formants to create a filter (which represents the tube), and run the source through the filter, resulting in speech.

Because speech signals vary with time, this process is done on short chunks of the speech signal, which are called frames; generally 30 to 50 frames per second give intelligible speech with good compression.

Early history of LPC

According to Robert M. Gray of Stanford University, the first ideas leading to LPC started in 1966 when S. Saito and F. Itakura of NTT described an approach to automatic phoneme discrimination that involved the first maximum likelihood approach to speech coding. In 1967, John Burg outlined the maximum entropy approach. In 1969 Itakura and Saito introduced partial correlation, May Glen Culler proposed realtime speech encoding, and B. S. Atal presented an LPC speech coder at the Annual Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America. In 1971 realtime LPC using 16-bit LPC hardware was demonstrated by Philco-Ford; four units were sold.

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