Quantization (signal Processing) - Rounding Example

Rounding Example

As an example, rounding a real number to the nearest integer value forms a very basic type of quantizer – a uniform one. A typical (mid-tread) uniform quantizer with a quantization step size equal to some value can be expressed as


where the function ( ) is the sign function (also known as the signum function). For simple rounding to the nearest integer, the step size is equal to 1. With or with equal to any other integer value, this quantizer has real-valued inputs and integer-valued outputs, although this property is not a necessity – a quantizer may also have an integer input domain and may also have non-integer output values. The essential property of a quantizer is that it has a countable set of possible output values that has fewer members than the set of possible input values. The members of the set of output values may have integer, rational, or real values (or even other possible values as well, in general – such as vector values or complex numbers).

When the quantization step size is small (relative to the variation in the signal being measured), it is relatively simple to show that the mean squared error produced by such a rounding operation will be approximately .

Because the set of possible output values of a quantizer is countable, any quantizer can be decomposed into two distinct stages, which can be referred to as the classification stage (or forward quantization stage) and the reconstruction stage (or inverse quantization stage), where the classification stage maps the input value to an integer quantization index and the reconstruction stage maps the index to the reconstruction value that is the output approximation of the input value. For the example uniform quantizer described above, the forward quantization stage can be expressed as


and the reconstruction stage for this example quantizer is simply .

This decomposition is useful for the design and analysis of quantization behavior, and it illustrates how the quantized data can be communicated over a communication channel – a source encoder can perform the forward quantization stage and send the index information through a communication channel (possibly applying entropy coding techniques to the quantization indices), and a decoder can perform the reconstruction stage to produce the output approximation of the original input data. In more elaborate quantization designs, both the forward and inverse quantization stages may be substantially more complex. In general, the forward quantization stage may use any function that maps the input data to the integer space of the quantization index data, and the inverse quantization stage can conceptually (or literally) be a table look-up operation to map each quantization index to a corresponding reconstruction value. This two-stage decomposition applies equally well to vector as well as scalar quantizers.

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