Version Tomorrow is the first day of the rest of your life

Speaker: Werner Van Belle


I obtained my PhD at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel in 2003. My dissertation was about distributed systems. Afterwards I was more interested in signal processing. I worked at ETH Zürich and helped creating Audiotool. Currently I am developing BpmDj.

I obtained my PhD at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel in 2003. My dissertation was about distributed systems. Afterwards I was more interested in signal processing. In particular one project, which I had started in 2001, kept growing throughout the years.

* BpmDj is software to mix music visually. It relies on a novel method to visualize music, called beatgraphs. A beatgraph plots the energy content of a track along two dimensions. From top to bottom 1 bar is shown, and then in the same image, from left to right all bars are shown. This visualization makes it possible to easily overlay tracks and align their beats. BpmDj further finds similar sounding music through nearest neighbor detection, it measures tempo, provides a series of filters, a limiter, a time stretcher and export functionality. All in all: a complete product ready to be used.

Aside from that one large project, there are a couple of smaller ones that were also quite interesting.

* Cryosleep is software that generates brainwaves by forcing a binaural beat to appear. It does this however not by generating two competing tones. Instead it takes an audio track of your choice and modifies the sound inaudibly such that both channels cancel out X times per second. This is supposed to synchronize the listeners’ brain and thereby potentially help people relax. Oddly, the emails I get about this program are mostly from nutcases and people with behavioral issues.

* Flow is an object oriented database that replaced SQL as backend in BpmDj. The database supports a transactional memory, virtual paging, garbage collection, garbage compaction, change listeners and petri-nets.

Next to these two projects, there are some scientific achievements of which I’m proud.

* developed a new method to normalize measurements from biological samples. This led to a variety of published papers, by researchers, who would otherwise find no information in their data. The paper explains that to analyze biological material both absolute and relative errors must be modeled. This can be done by setting out error distributions in function of the intensity of the signal. If one does so, happiness ensues.

* developed a novel method to find the k nearest neighbors by accessing less than 30% of the data in high dimensional space (>1000 dimensions). The only competing technique are vector approximation files, but compared to that one , we store about 20% less data. The presentation I gave at OHM2013 summarizes the technique quite well. ‘~30% data access. 1000+ dimensional uniform spaces‘

* In 2007, I developed a technique to find images in larger images through Fourier analysis. The technique normalizes both needle and haystack images before it will send them through a standard cross correlation algorithm.

Then there is research which opened opportunities but where the ‘inventive’ step took a lot less work.

* Tempo detection of music. In 2001 I invented a technique to measure tempo accurately. Over the years it became only more accurate. The tempo detector itself is used in BpmDj, and can be seen at work in the current Android version of the software.
* A similar story for a method we developed to analyze 2-dimensional electrophoretic gels. Invented/created in a couple of days. Published in a couple of months. Yet, the project itself continued. New data, new publications, patent applications, proposals etc.