He’s a man you may never have heard of but without him we would not have video or images on the internet, video conferencing, streaming sites, in fact the plethora of modern multimedia and entertainment platforms or filming studios would probably not exist without his work.
Professor Nasir Ahmed was born 1940 in Bangalore, India and is an Indian-American electrical engineer and computer scientist. After earning his B.S. at the University College of Engineering in Bangalore, India in 1961, his bio in Orthogonal Transforms for Digital Signal Processing reveals that Nasir pursued both his M.S. and Ph.D. at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.
He was Professor Emeritus of Electrical and Computer Engineering at University of New Mexico (UNM) for 18 years before retiring in 2001.
Discrete Cosine Transform work
He worked with a group of researchers in the mid-1970s to develop what is called Discrete Cosine Transform (DCT), a technological technique that helped make image sharing and video-conferencing possible.
The DCT is the most widely used data compression transformation, the basis for most digital media standards (image, video and audio) and commonly used in digital signal processing. He also described the discrete sine transform (DST), which is related to the DCT.
Nasir and his team’s work on DCT is used in numerous commercial applications, including high-definition digital TVs, teleconferencing, and other image-sharing platforms. His work led to the JPG (JPEG) image and moreover his work was integral to the developement of video conferencing software technology.
A recent episode of the satelite television series “This is US” featured an episode that centred on his invention and his relationship with his wife, Esther, they both recently celebrated their 56th year engagement, and the filmmakers also spoke to him and his wife via a Zoom call made possible only through his work.
Below is a clip from This is Us Season 5 Episode 8 which looks at the relationship of Prof. Ahmed and his wife Esther.