Dr. Mark A. Richards

Dr. Mark A. Richards

Last Updated December 23, 2016


Principal Research Engineer and Adjunct Professor
School of Electrical & Computer Engineering
Georgia Institute of Technology
266 Ferst Drive
Atlanta, GA 30332-0765Phone:   404-894-2714
E-mail:   mrichards@gatech.edu
Office:    Klaus Advanced Computing Building (KACB), Room 3354
Local Travel Information
(driving and subway directions, maps, parking, hotels)

Biographical Summary:

For a reasonably detailed but slightly dated biosketch, click here. Summarizing: I spent most of my career since finishing the Ph.D., namely the 20 years from 1982-2001, at the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI), the applied R&D arm of Georgia Tech (with a few years at Lockheed-Martin and DARPA mixed in there). I moved to GT’s School of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) in 2002. I received both my bachelor’s degree and Ph.D. from Georgia Tech ECE (the M.S. is from Stanford), so basically I am a Georgia Tech lifer.

Click here to reach my external (non-GT) website.

 You Should Study DSP So This Doesn’t Happen To You!

The author of PhD Comics, Jorge Cham, got his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering at Georgia Tech in 1997.  This strip suggests he is a veteran (or survivor) of ECE2025.

What I Do:

My current major activities at GT are:
  • Writing educational and tutorial materials in the field of radar signal processing.
  • Directing and teaching in continuing education (a.k.a. professional education) courses.
  • Research administration support
Until recently, I was also active at GT in:
  • Teaching undergraduate and graduate ECE courses.
  • Conducting research related to high performance embedded computing (HPEC) and radar signal processing:
    • I supported DARPA’s exascale computing study (ECS) and the subsequent exascale computing software and resiliency studies (ECSS and ECRS).  More information on the ECS and ECSS reports is available further down the page.
    • Another area of HPEC research in which I was involved for a while is the use of Graphical Processing units (GPUs) for more general embedded computing (so-called General Purpose GPU, or GPGPU, computing), especially in sensor signal processing.  A sample paper in this area is cited below.
      • My colleagues Dan Campbell and Andrew Kerr released the first version of GPU VSIPL, an implementation of the VSIPL Core Lite profile that targets GPUs using Nvidia’s CUDA platform. A paper on GPU-VSIPL is included below.
    • Some ongoing HPEC middleware projects that I helped start, but in which I am no longer active, include
      • The High Performance Embedded Computing Software Initiative (HPEC-SI)
      • The Vector, Signal, and Image Processing (VSIPL) Forum

Course Development:

ECE 6272, “Fundamentals of Radar Signal Processing”, is a course that I developed and taught for manyyears. Both on-campus and distance learning sections are available; see the Georgia Tech Distance Learning and Professional Education web site for information on distance learning options.  My book of the same title evolved from the class notes for this course and is now the course text.

Professional Education:

I have been heavily involved in developing and teaching continuing education courses (short courses), mostly on defense-related topics, for some years. The four courses I have developed or co-developed are:

  • Signal Processing Refresher. This is a general, sophomore-level review of basic signals and system concepts such as linear filters and Fourier analysis. It is a good way to “scrape the rust off” before tackling some of the other short courses listed next, if you haven’t worked in signal processing in a while.
  • Basic Radar Signal Processing Concepts. This is a  shorter, less-detailed version of the Fundamentals of Radar Signal Processing course, aimed at  radar operators, technicians, technical managers, and those new to the field to the goals and concepts of the major signal processing methods used in modern radars.
  • Fundamentals of Radar Signal Processing
    This is a good follow-on to Principles of Modern Radar (see below), and an excellent stepping stone for advanced radar signal processing short courses such as Fundamentals of Synthetic Aperture Radar Signal Processing and Space-Time Adaptive Processing: Applications to Radar.
  • Fundamentals of Synthetic Aperture Radar Signal Processing
    This course offers fairly detailed coverage of the major 2D and 3D SAR image formation algorithms and SAR applications.

Most of these are taught once or twice a year in Atlanta and sometimes in other locations, typically Denver, Las Vegas, or Orlando.  Check out the Georgia Tech Professional Education site, or the course-specific links above, for information on costs, locations, and dates.  All of these courses are available on a contract basis as well. Contact me for more information.

In addition, I teach in a number of other current Georgia Tech short courses, taught in Atlanta and various other cities, and available on a contract (and customized) basis as well:

The complete list of defense-related Georgia Tech short courses (as well as many other subject areas) is available at the Distance Learning and Professional Education site. You can also find information on academic credit courses offered for distance learning at this site.

Textbook Development:

I have led the development of two of the most successful current textbooks in radar technology and radar signal processing. All of the books discussed below are available from their respective publishers, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble, among others.


Fundamentals of Radar Signal Processing

image008Published by McGraw-Hill in 2005 and updated with a second edition in 2014, this is a text I authored based on the Georgia Tech graduate course ECE 6272 of the same name, as well as the Professional Education course also of the same name. This link provides the Table of Contents and Preface, links to book purchase web sites, the errata sheet as it develops, supplemental notes on assorted topics, and information on a number of instructor resources for institutions adopting the book for a course.

Principles of Modern Radar: Basic Principles

image009I am the editor-in-chief of this text released by SciTech Publishing in 2010.  Principles of Modern Radar: Basic Principles, is intended to become the new “Radar 101” text of choice.  Ideal as both a text for newcomers and a reference for practitioners, it provides an excellent foundation for the “Radar 102” level of Fundamentals of Radar Signal Processing. It is also available bundled with the remaining two volumes of the Principles of Modern Radar series, on Advanced Techniques and Radar Applications.


Other Selected Publications and Topics of Interest:

Essay on the Relative Contributions of Moore’s Law and Algorithms to Digital Signal Processing

M. A. Richards and G. A. Shaw, “Chips, Architectures and Algorithms: Reflections on the Exponential Growth of Digital Signal Processing Capability”. Here we argue that improvements in the computational efficiency of algorithms have, over the long term, provided as much boost in processing capability as Moore’s Law-scale hardware improvements. A portion of the ideas in this paper were published at the 2004 High Performance Embedded computing (HPEC) Workshop.

Exascale Computing Study Reports

Beginning in mid-2007, DARPA/IPTO sponsored a series of studies intended to understand the future course of mainstream computing technology and determine whether or not it would allow a 1,000X increase in the computational capabilities of computing systems by the 2015 time frame. (The answer as I write this in 2016: No. Not even close.)  Where current technology trends were deemed incapable of achieving such increases, the studies were also charged with identifying the major challenges and the areas where additional targeted research could lay the groundwork for overcoming them.  The publicly-released final reports of the first exascale computing study, which focuses more on the hardware issues, and the subsequent exascale computing software study, are available here.

Research Paper Samples:

I don’t do a lot of papers, but here are a handful that are representative of my research activities since I moved to GT/ECE. A mostly complete list is in my biosketch.

Book Chapters:

I have edited or contributed chapters to a few other books along the way. A couple more are listed in my biosketch.

  • M. A. Richards, “Interferometric SAR and Coherent Exploitation”, Ch. 8 in W. L. Melvin and J. A. Scheers, eds., Principles of Modern Radar: Advanced Techniques. SciTech Publishing, 2013.
  • M. A. Richards, A. J. Gadient, and G. A. Frank, editors, Rapid Prototyping of Application Specific Signal Processors, Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1997. This book was a result of the DARPA Rapid Prototyping of Application-Specific Signal Processors (RASSP) program of the mid-1990s, for which I served as Program Manager during 1993-95.
  • “Nonlinear Effects in Fourier Transform Processing” (Chapter 6) and “Motion Compensation Fundamentals” (Chapter 7) in J. A. Scheer and J. L. Kurtz, editors, Coherent Radar Performance Estimation. Artech House, Norwood, Massachusetts, 1993.

External Activities (Consulting, Expert Witness, etc.)

I occasionally consult in the areas of radar signal processing and digital signal processing. Please visit my external site for more information.