Quantization (signal Processing) - Mid-riser and Mid-tread Uniform Quantizers

Mid-riser and Mid-tread Uniform Quantizers

Most uniform quantizers for signed input data can be classified as being of one of two types: mid-riser and mid-tread. The terminology is based on what happens in the region around the value 0, and uses the analogy of viewing the input-output function of the quantizer as a stairway. Mid-tread quantizers have a zero-valued reconstruction level (corresponding to a tread of a stairway), while mid-riser quantizers have a zero-valued classification threshold (corresponding to a riser of a stairway).

The formulas for mid-tread uniform quantization are provided above.

The input-output formula for a mid-riser uniform quantizer is given by:


where the classification rule is given by

and the reconstruction rule is


Note that mid-riser uniform quantizers do not have a zero output value – their minimum output magnitude is half the step size. When the input data can be modeled as a random variable with a probability density function (pdf) that is smooth and symmetric around zero, mid-riser quantizers also always produce an output entropy of at least 1 bit per sample.

In contrast, mid-tread quantizers do have a zero output level, and can reach arbitrarily low bit rates per sample for input distributions that are symmetric and taper off at higher magnitudes. For some applications, having a zero output signal representation or supporting low output entropy may be a necessity. In such cases, using a mid-tread uniform quantizer may be appropriate while using a mid-riser one would not be.

In general, a mid-riser or mid-tread quantizer may not actually be a uniform quantizer – i.e., the size of the quantizer's classification intervals may not all be the same, or the spacing between its possible output values may not all be the same. The distinguishing characteristic of a mid-riser quantizer is that it has a classification threshold value that is exactly zero, and the distinguishing characteristic of a mid-tread quantizer is that is it has a reconstruction value that is exactly zero.

Another name for a mid-tread quantizer is dead-zone quantizer, and the classification region around the zero output value of such a quantizer is referred to as the dead zone. The dead zone can sometimes serve the same purpose as a noise gate or squelch function.

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