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Flood Fill, or: The Joy of Resource Constraints

Ido Gendel November 13, 2023

When transferred from the PC world to a microcontroller, a famous, tried-and-true graphics algorithm is no longer viable. The challenge of creating an alternative under severe resource constraints is an intriguing puzzle, the kind that keeps embedded development fun and interesting.


Elliptic Curve Cryptography - Extension Fields

Mike October 29, 2023

An introduction to the pairing of points on elliptic curves. Point pairing normally requires curves over an extension field because the structure of an elliptic curve has two independent sets of points if it is large enough. The rules of pairings are described in a general way to show they can be useful for verification purposes.


Elliptic Curve Cryptography - Key Exchange and Signatures

Mike October 21, 2023

Elliptic curve mathematics over finite fields helps solve the problem of exchanging secret keys for encrypted messages as well as proving a specific person signed a particular document. This article goes over simple algorithms for key exchange and digital signature using elliptic curve mathematics. These methods are the essence of elliptic curve cryptography (ECC) used in applications such as SSH, TLS and HTTPS.


Elliptic Curve Cryptography - Security Considerations

Mike October 16, 2023

The security of elliptic curve cryptography is determined by the elliptic curve discrete log problem. This article explains what that means. A comparison with real number logarithm and modular arithmetic gives context for why it is called a log problem.


Elliptic Curve Cryptography - Basic Math

Mike October 10, 2023

An introduction to the math of elliptic curves for cryptography. Covers the basic equations of points on an elliptic curve and the concept of point addition as well as multiplication.


Square root in fixed point VHDL

Jari Honkanen October 10, 20231 comment

In this blog we will design and implement a fixed point square root function in VHDL. The algorithm is based on the recursive Newton Raphson inverse square root algorithm and the implementation offers parametrizable pipeline depth, word length and the algorithm is built with VHDL records and procedures for easy use.


Linear Feedback Shift Registers for the Uninitiated, Part XV: Error Detection and Correction

Jason Sachs June 12, 2018

Last time, we talked about Gold codes, a specially-constructed set of pseudorandom bit sequences (PRBS) with low mutual cross-correlation, which are used in many spread-spectrum communications systems, including the Global Positioning System.

This time we are wading into the field of error detection and correction, in particular CRCs and Hamming codes.

Ernie, You Have a Banana in Your Ear

I have had a really really tough time writing this article. I like the...


Linear Regression with Evenly-Spaced Abscissae

Jason Sachs May 1, 20181 comment

What a boring title. I wish I could come up with something snazzier. One word I learned today is studentization, which is just the normalization of errors in a curve-fitting exercise by the sample standard deviation (e.g. point \( x_i \) is \( 0.3\hat{\sigma} \) from the best-fit linear curve, so \( \frac{x_i - \hat{x}_i}{\hat{\sigma}} = 0.3 \)) — Studentize me! would have been nice, but I couldn’t work it into the topic for today. Oh well.

I needed a little break from...


Linear Feedback Shift Registers for the Uninitiated, Part XI: Pseudorandom Number Generation

Jason Sachs December 20, 2017

Last time we looked at the use of LFSRs in counters and position encoders.

This time we’re going to look at pseudorandom number generation, and why you may — or may not — want to use LFSRs for this purpose.

But first — an aside:

Science Fair 1983

When I was in fourth grade, my father bought a Timex/Sinclair 1000. This was one of several personal computers introduced in 1982, along with the Commodore 64. The...


Linear Feedback Shift Registers for the Uninitiated, Part IX: Decimation, Trace Parity, and Cyclotomic Cosets

Jason Sachs December 3, 2017

Last time we looked at matrix methods and how they can be used to analyze two important aspects of LFSRs:

  • time shifts
  • state recovery from LFSR output

In both cases we were able to use a finite field or bitwise approach to arrive at the same result as a matrix-based approach. The matrix approach is more expensive in terms of execution time and memory storage, but in some cases is conceptually simpler.

This article will be covering some concepts that are useful for studying the...


Data Types for Control & DSP

Tim Wescott April 26, 20166 comments

There's a lot of information out there on what data types to use for digital signal processing, but there's also a lot of confusion, so the topic bears repeating.

I recently posted an entry on PID control. In that article I glossed over the data types used by showing "double" in all of my example code.  Numerically, this should work for most control problems, but it can be an extravagant use of processor resources.  There ought to be a better way to determine what precision you need...


Linear Feedback Shift Registers for the Uninitiated, Part VI: Sing Along with the Berlekamp-Massey Algorithm

Jason Sachs October 18, 20171 comment

The last two articles were on discrete logarithms in finite fields — in practical terms, how to take the state \( S \) of an LFSR and its characteristic polynomial \( p(x) \) and figure out how many shift steps are required to go from the state 000...001 to \( S \). If we consider \( S \) as a polynomial bit vector such that \( S = x^k \bmod p(x) \), then this is equivalent to the task of figuring out \( k \) from \( S \) and \( p(x) \).

This time we’re tackling something...


Linear Feedback Shift Registers for the Uninitiated, Part VIII: Matrix Methods and State Recovery

Jason Sachs November 21, 20174 comments

Last time we looked at a dsPIC implementation of LFSR updates. Now we’re going to go back to basics and look at some matrix methods, which is the third approach to represent LFSRs that I mentioned in Part I. And we’re going to explore the problem of converting from LFSR output to LFSR state.

Matrices: Beloved Historical Dregs

Elwyn Berlekamp’s 1966 paper Non-Binary BCH Encoding covers some work on


Linear Feedback Shift Registers for the Uninitiated, Part XV: Error Detection and Correction

Jason Sachs June 12, 2018

Last time, we talked about Gold codes, a specially-constructed set of pseudorandom bit sequences (PRBS) with low mutual cross-correlation, which are used in many spread-spectrum communications systems, including the Global Positioning System.

This time we are wading into the field of error detection and correction, in particular CRCs and Hamming codes.

Ernie, You Have a Banana in Your Ear

I have had a really really tough time writing this article. I like the...


Linear Feedback Shift Registers for the Uninitiated, Part XI: Pseudorandom Number Generation

Jason Sachs December 20, 2017

Last time we looked at the use of LFSRs in counters and position encoders.

This time we’re going to look at pseudorandom number generation, and why you may — or may not — want to use LFSRs for this purpose.

But first — an aside:

Science Fair 1983

When I was in fourth grade, my father bought a Timex/Sinclair 1000. This was one of several personal computers introduced in 1982, along with the Commodore 64. The...


Linear Regression with Evenly-Spaced Abscissae

Jason Sachs May 1, 20181 comment

What a boring title. I wish I could come up with something snazzier. One word I learned today is studentization, which is just the normalization of errors in a curve-fitting exercise by the sample standard deviation (e.g. point \( x_i \) is \( 0.3\hat{\sigma} \) from the best-fit linear curve, so \( \frac{x_i - \hat{x}_i}{\hat{\sigma}} = 0.3 \)) — Studentize me! would have been nice, but I couldn’t work it into the topic for today. Oh well.

I needed a little break from...


You Don't Need an RTOS (Part 1)

Nathan Jones April 11, 20248 comments

In this first article, we'll compare our two contenders, the superloop and the RTOS. We'll define a few terms that help us describe exactly what functions a scheduler does and why an RTOS can help make certain systems work that wouldn't with a superloop. By the end of this article, you'll be able to: - Measure or calculate the deadlines, periods, and worst-case execution times for each task in your system, - Determine, using either a response-time analysis or a utilization test, if that set of tasks is schedulable using either a superloop or an RTOS, and - Assign RTOS task priorities optimally.


Square root in fixed point VHDL

Jari Honkanen October 10, 20231 comment

In this blog we will design and implement a fixed point square root function in VHDL. The algorithm is based on the recursive Newton Raphson inverse square root algorithm and the implementation offers parametrizable pipeline depth, word length and the algorithm is built with VHDL records and procedures for easy use.


Mathematics and Cryptography

Mike December 14, 20151 comment

The mathematics of number theory and elliptic curves can take a life time to learn because they are very deep subjects.  As engineers we don't have time to earn PhD's in math along with all the things we have to learn just to make communications systems work.  However, a little learning can go a long way to helping make our communications systems secure - we don't need to know everything. The following articles are broken down into two realms, number theory and elliptic...


Finite State Machines (FSM) in Embedded Systems (Part 1) - There's a State in This Machine!

Massimiliano Pagani February 5, 20243 comments

An introduction to state machines and their implementation. Working from an intuitive definition of the state machine concept, we will start with a straightforward implementation then we evolve it into a more robust and engineered solution.