Maths listens and watches
Russell Ivanovic is the chief product officer at Pocket Casts – a premium podcast app that boasts unique audio-enhancement tools thanks to complex algorithms. The app scans audio files for gaps and trims them, then speeds up super-slow voices without you noticing.
“When you speed up someone’s voice, it’ll increase in pitch so they’ll sound like a chipmunk. By implementing a time/pitch algorithm we can speed up someone’s voice, without altering the pitch of the actual voice. Good luck figuring out that one without maths,” says Russell.
Russell’s excited by the prospects of what machine learning could do in the future. Take the recent developments in image recognition: “If I show you a picture, you can immediately tell me if it contains a hotdog or not. A machine 20 years ago couldn’t,” says Russell. Now, artificial intelligence (AI) can trawl through hundreds of thousands of hotdog pictures and use that data to identify a hotdog with pretty good accuracy.
“It may seem simple, but even the simplest software can involve thousands of branching conditions and state machines. A good knowledge of math is essential to reason about these, implement and fix them,” he says.