Campus Life

Inaugural Professor Uses Math to Signal Success

Utah State University professor Jake Gunther began this year’s Inaugural Lecture Series presentation in Nov. 2012. Coordinated by the Provost’s Office, the series highlights the accomplishments of faculty who have been promoted to full professor.

Gunther’s discourse, “The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Math in Signal Processing,” was the first of 13 lectures to be presented at USU President Stan Albrecht’s home.

“It is a variation on a theme from a sequence of papers that have appeared over the years entitled ‘The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Math in ____,’ you fill in the blank,” said Gunther.

“My field is signal processing, so I substituted signal processing into the blank and talked about how remarkable it is that the physical world can effectively be described and signals processed using mathematics,” said Gunther.

Gunther, a professor in electrical and computer engineering, entered college majoring in accounting.

“After a course on bonds and annuities, I turned away from accounting and business forever and changed my major to mechanical engineering,” said Gunther.

After taking a class in electrical engineering, Gunther changed his major one final time to electrical engineering.

“It was incredibly satisfying because every class that I took seemed to answer questions about how things work.  I felt like my life had finally begun,” said Gunther.

Gunther earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Brigham Young University and moved to Manassas, Va., to work for Lockheed-Martin.

“I found that I missed learning and researching at school. So when I received an invitation to return to school from the man who would later become my Ph.D. advisor, I jumped at the chance,” said Gunther.

Gunther completed his doctorate degree in 1998 and joined a technology industry startup company.

“I spent two years doing signal processing; speech recognition and synthesis, microphone arrays and noise and echo cancellation.”

Gunther enjoyed the job but knew his long-term career goal was to be in academia. Gunther took a position with USU in 2000 in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

“It has been a privilege for me to work with the best students on campus: the students in my classes and those that I’ve worked with in research,” said Gunther.

Gunther has involved both theoretical and applied research in his work.

“I naturally like applied work where we build and deploy real systems,” he said. “Nothing is as much fun as building things and seeing them work as designed.”

Gunther continues to focus on research and teaching.

“I have developed some ideas for teaching my subjects that are unique and different,” said Gunther. “I want to spend more time writing and developing materials that I can use in my classes and share with others in the field.”

Related links:

USU Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

USU College of Engineering

Writer: Jaron Dunford, 920-246-2863,

Contact: Jake Gunther, 435-797-7229,

USU Provost Ray Coward, professor Kacob Gunther, USU President Stan Albrecht

Professor Jacob Gunther (center) kicked off the 2012-13 Inaugural Professor Lecture series in November 2012. He was joined by USU Executive Vice President and Provost Raymond Coward (left) and USU President Stan Albrecht (right).


Inaugural Lecture 125stories

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