National Award

University of Wisconsin - River Falls

March 15, 1996

Triplat Takes National Computing Honor

By Jaime Larson
UW-RF News Bureau

At an age when many kids were playing games on computers, UW-River Falls senior Jason Triplat, now a senior majoring in computer science, was learning how to program them.

What started as an interest in programming during Triplat's junior high years has led to a national award for a project in which Triplat helped to develop a process to improve the quality of sound produced by CD players.

Triplat's project was named one of the top four projects this February in Philadelphia at the National Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Poster Competition. Triplat was one of 20 presenters at the national competition chosen by the ACM from among a number of proposals.

Triplat was stunned when he realized that he had won.

"I was surprised," he said. "Actually it was kind of strange because I thought that they were going to call all of the names, and they called my name so I just walked up front. Then they just called four names. I walked up there thinking that I hadn't won, and then it finally dawned on me that I actually won."

Computer science Professor Hossein Najafi, who recruited Triplat for the project, said the Rudolph, Wis., native faced tough competition at the national level, and winning was a great accomplishment.

"It did surprise me with the fact that it was at the national level and given the fact that there were other larger, more research-oriented universities there," Najafi said. "But I think that the project did deserve such a rank."

That viewpoint is shared by Don Moses, founder and vice chairman of Wadia Digital, Inc., of River Falls, which was the sponsor for the research. Triplat began the project last summer when he was taking classes at UW-RF and was recruited by Najafi to assist him on the Wadia research project.

Said Moses of the partnership leading to Triplat's award:

"It was a very good relationship for a small company that competes in a global market. Eighty percent of our products are sold overseas. We need to use the talents that are available to us. And the talents at UW-River Falls are tremendous. Jason is a very talented individual. What he did in our market is significant."

The research project was exploratory, and its application may be a couple of years away. For Wadia, it will help keep its CD players at the top of the preference list of music afficianadoes. The Wadia players, which range in price from $1,500 to $15,000, are the highest rated CD player in Japan, and are popular sellers in Europe and such Pacific Rim nations as Taiwan.

Najafi and Triplat tackled an industry problem that stems from CD players having only one filter to distinguish between many different types of sound signals. While a filter might produce quality sound from one type of signal, such as treble, it probably won't filter other signals equally well, like bass. Thus, the sound won't have the best overall quality.

"The problem is that you have one filter that cannot change," Triplat said. "It will not do the best possible sound construction for all types of sounds, so we need to have a filter that can change based on the type of sound pattern it sees."

When Triplat joined the project with Najafi, his job was to train a neural network-a computer program that can learn to classify things. When a program that classifies sound signals is applied to the filter in a CD player, the filter can then continuously adapt to different signals to produce a better sound.

"I like taking on a complex problem and being able to solve it," Triplat said. "When you have a project that you have to write a program for and it's hard and you have a lot of problems, when you finally get it to work it's a kind of cool feeling."

It was this positive attitude toward challenging work that led Najafi to contact Triplat to help him with the project. Najafi had Triplat in class and had determined that he was a dedicated student.

"I enjoy working with students and I respect those students who are very hard working," Najafi said. "Jason not only is hard working, but he's a good student. I believe he really loves what he's doing."

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