Jaakko Astola: "Scientific thinking cannot be learned from books"
"Researchers are like apprentices who blossom to their full potential under the supervision of a master," compares Professor Jaakko Astola.
Jaakko Astola was invited to join Academia Europaea in 2012. The independent scientific association was established in 1988 to promote education and research.
The invitation was well-deserved, as Astola’s distinguished research and teaching career in the field of signal processing spans nearly 40 years. His research interests have included mathematics, information theory and nonlinear signal processing and he has supervised dozens of doctoral students.
Astola began his academic career working on error correction coding in the 1970s and has since shifted his research focus towards image processing and compression. In 1993, he was appointed head of the Signal Processing Algorithm Group (SPAG) at TUT.
Talking about the highlights of his career, Astola, perhaps surprisingly, looks back on his years as a university student and pays tribute to his teachers Arto Salomaa and Aimo Tietäväinen.
“They set me on the right track career-wise. Back then, I studied mathematics and applied mathematics at the University of Turku and they taught me the principles of scientific thinking.”
"Science is more than devising exact rules and methods and conducting measurements. Scientists need to understand and internalize what they’ve learned. This is possible only by spending enough time within and under the tutelage of the scientific community," he says.
Thirst for knowledge is reason enough
"Sometimes it should be enough to launch a research project just out of curiosity. There are still a lot of unresolved problems in physics and mathematics that have confounded scientists for centuries. What could be more interesting than that! But how can we find and encourage the best minds to take on the challenge? There are so many different career options out there for talented students."
Fundamental research makes up about 40 per cent of SPAG’s research activities. Other priority areas include modern multimedia and computational systems biology. SPAG consists of nearly 100 researchers and is TUT’s most international research group.
"The majority of my working hours are spent on administrative duties and I also write textbooks. I’m gradually delegating more responsibilities to others. The allure of science is getting stronger. Maybe I’ll tackle research problems that have fascinated me for the past two decades," plans Astola.