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The Art of Making Data: Quantifying Sound

Event Details

Thursday, September 29, 2016 (03:30 PM - 05:30 PM)
No Instructor Assigned Yet

Workshop Details


All of the equipment and software necessary for this workshop will be provided during the workshop, including the Audacity software and SAS Studio OnDemand for Academics.

You do not have to have attended the D.H. Hill Makerspace Orientation before attending this workshop. 


Quantification: The Art of Making Data workshop taught by Elliot Inman, Aaron Arthur, and Olivia Wright

So much of the sound we listen to now is stored in a digital format that it is easy to forget that most of that sound began as an analog wave of air pressure.  What was once a live 1970s funk band horn section has become repurposed as a digital 2010s cell phone ringtone.  What began as a real human voice or a violin or an orchestra was converted from an analog signal to a digital one:  from a stream of air pressure to a stream of bits and bytes.  But the digitization of sound has benefits well beyond providing a snippet of a Parliament Funkadelic jam to let you know a friend just sent a text.  Digitized sound makes it easy to analyze those sounds – to decompose those digital data into frequencies and harmonic data to better understand what we hear.

In this workshop, we will build a device to capture sound, save those data to the computer, and analyze the results to compare different sounds.  We will build a simple contact microphone and record sounds using Audacity.  We will make multiple measures using the contact microphone and analyze the resulting data using SAS Studio.  

We will consider questions like:  How much of a sound (how precise the data) is enough to distinguish two or more sounds that, to the human ear, are clearly different?  How does the sensitivity of our microphone affect the quality of the analysis of the data?  How does the way in which we define the start and end points of a recording (or sample) affect our measure of frequencies?  How can we compare different sounds that may be of very different duration or timbre or tone?

This workshop is part of the Quantification: The Art of Making Data event series in collaboration with the NCSU Data Science Initiative.See Dr. Inman speak on 9/28/16 as part of the DSI's RED Talks series, 7:00pm at the Talley Student Union.

Elliot Inman is a Manager of Software Development at SAS.  Trained as an Experimental Psychologist, he has developed code and conducted statistical analyses on a wide variety of data, from marketing and sales data to health care, international trade, education, and social services for at-risk children.  He has conducted makerspace workshops at NC State and UNC, as well as various maker faires.  He occasionally blogs here:

Aaron Arthur is an NC State senior in Computer Engineering with a minor in Linguistics.  He created the DH Hill Makerspace Card Access System and has led numerous electronics workshops in the Makerspace.  He is currently a Technical Intern at SAS where he is working on a number of “data for good” projects, including the application of text mining algorithms to witness report data to better understand deaths the international migrant crisis.

Olivia Wright is an NC State junior majoring in Statistics with a minor in Computer Programming.  She is a Technical Intern at SAS where she has worked on a wide range of projects from text analysis of popular novels to a missingness analysis of international trade data.  Most recently, she has been developing an automated processes for analysis of employee survey data and a set of point-and-click custom tasks for executing data and statistical processes in SAS Studio.

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