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DSPSR: Digital Signal Processing Software for Pulsar Astronomy

Also known as: DSPSR
Swinburne University of Technology
Matthew Bailes (Owned by) Willem Herman Bernardus Van Straten (Owned by) Willem van Straten (Owned by)
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Rights Statement

Copyright © 2006-2012 Willem van Straten


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The latest version of DSPSR is available via anonymous CVS from SourceForge

Brief description

DSPSR is a high-performance, open-source, object-oriented, digital signal processing software library and application suite for use in radio pulsar astronomy. It implements an extensive range of modular algorithms that can optionally exploit both multiple-core processors and general-purpose graphics processing units. DSPSR processes continuous streams of radio pulsar astronomical data, producing integrated statistics such as the phase-resolved mean polarisation of the pulsar signal.


Full description

Technical Description:

The main features of this software are:

  • automatic excision of invalid data, such as those lost during transfer or corrupted by impulsive interference
  • correction of digitisation distortions via dynamic output level setting (Jenet & Anderson 1998)
  • phase-coherent dispersion removal (Hankins & Rickett 1975) with optional Jones matrix convolution for high time-resolution polarimetry (van Straten 2002)
  • synthetic filterbank formation with concurrent coherent dedispersion and/or Jones matrix convolution
  • full-polarimetric detection, including computation of higher-order moments
  • computation of phase-resolved averages (folding) using either a polynomial approximation to the pulsar phase model, a constant period, or acceleration search parameters
  • cyclic spectroscopy (Demorest 2011)
  • formation of sub-integrations of arbitrary length, including single pulses
  • simultaneous folding of multiple pulsars, such as globular cluster or double pulsars
  • exploitation of multiple processing cores using parallel computing threads
  • accelerated computation on graphics processing units
  • transparent buffering of input data to handle the edge effects of certain algorithms, such as the overlap-save method of discrete convolution
  • real-time signal processing directly from a ring buffer in shared memory
  • time-division multiplexing: discontiguous segments of data may be processed as a single stream to minimise initialisation time.


DSPSR was designed to increase the portability of both algorithms and data. The software is managed using an open-source distributed version control system and installed and compiled using a cross-platform build system. It can read a variety of data formats, including the VLBI Data Interface Format (VDIF), the PSRFITS file format, as well as a number of other custom file formats used at different observatories.


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Related Data Collections:

Parkes observations for project P140: semester 1994AUGT - 2010OCTS (42 collections)

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