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TU Berlin

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Informationen zur Forschungsarbeit im Fachgebiet Kommunikationswissenschaft

1. Characteristics

The TUB was founded in 1946. It had many forerunners which can be traced back to 1770. Today, 15 different sections with 152 institutes teach 38.500 students in natural sciences, social sciences and the humanities to which the Institute of Communications Research belongs. The course of studies has its roots in 1955 when it was named Scientific Foundations of Speech and Music. The lecturer was Fritz Winckel, well known as the author of the article on the Acoustical Foundations of Phonetics in the Manual of Phonetics by Bertil Malmberg. The institute originally had its research activitities in all aspects of communication technology and music-acoustics but later also developed strong branches in multimedia and speech communication research.

2. Research interests

The scientific work carried out at the IKW aims at fundamental research. It is closely connected to practical application in the clinical, educational, and industrial area. In one of the research activities, the question is examined how speech is mentally represented with respect to lexical access. This problem is closely linked to the question about the basic units of the auditory perception of speech. The project aims at developing an empirically- based word recognition model. Another research activity investigates the speech perception by the hearing impaired; acoustic cues are systematically varied by means of digital signal processing in order to study their impact on the categorical perception of these listeners. In extension of this work and in cooperation with the Department of Phoniatrics at the ENT-Clinic of the University of Muenster and the Berlin Charite research is conducted to determine which phonetic cues can be well discriminated by patients with the nucleus cochlea implant. The improvement of the quality of a text-to-speech system is the topic of a third project focussing especially on prosodic features in cooperation with the Institute of Telecommunication at TU Berlin. Furthermore, tests are developed that can be used in both the assessment of synthesized speech and speech audiometry. For this purpose, phonetically representative and semantically balanced test materials were developed. In the research on speech and emotion, parameters of the speech signal are investigated with respect to their contribution to the emotionality of speech. A project on the early stages of language acquisition - a longitudinal study - focusses on the babbling drift. This project aims at finding criteria for an early assessment of hearing impairment. Also, methods are developed for the visualisation of speech for articulatory training of profoundly hearing impaired. The investigation of sound as such is a phenomenon investigated in all of its variety at IKW. The concept of orthophony, recording and reproduction of spatial sound events is a research field under investigation. The analysis and synthesis of sound, loss-less compression methods for audio- signals, the physical modelling of sounds, psychoacoustically based organization of sound neighbourhood modells are research activities that are closely connected to the production of electro-acoustical/computer music compositions and the education of audio engineers (tonmeister) carried out at IKW. It is an important objective of our institute to feed our courses by the presentation of procedures and results of our actual research.

3. Infrastructure

The IKW is well equipped with computers of various architectures (Silicon Graphics Indy Cluster, DEC-VAX, PC's, Apple's), software for signal analysis and synthesis (Entropic Signal Processing System ESPS, Computer Audio Research Laboratory CARL, Computerized Speech Lab KAY Elemetrics CSL), music production software (ProTools, KTH-Sonagramm, Sona, Turbosynth), a large anachoic chamber is available, a digital production studio for electronic music (with a mixing console Soundcraft S8000, several hard-disk-recording software systems, CD-ROM recording machine), a palatograph, a laryngograph and a speech audiometer. Furthermore, data like the CELEX Lexical Database, data from ONOMASTICA (pronunciation data-base of names), and other large speech corpora of both written and spoken language are accessible. The university holds various journals, e.g. Phonetica, Journal of Phonetics, Speech Communication, Journal of Speech and Hearing Research, Folia Phoniatrica, Acta Acoustica, Journal of the Audio Engineering Society, and the Journal of the Acoustic Society of America. Close contacts through common project are held to the following insti- tutions: Institute for Telecommunication at Technische Universitaet of Berlin, Academy of Arts Berlin (HdK), Department of Phoniatrics and Pedaudiology (ENT-Clinic, University of Muenster), Humbold University of Berlin (ENT-clinic of Charite Berlin; Paedaulogy); Institute of Communications Research and Phonetics Bonn.

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