Thursday, 14 May 2015
Decima // fate
Decimation ( decimatio; decem = "ten") was a form of military discipline used by senior commanders in the Roman Army to punish units or large groups guilty of capital offences, such as mutiny or desertion. The word decimation is derived from Latin meaning "removal of a tenth". The procedure was a pragmatic, yet vicious, attempt to balance the need to punish serious offences with the practicalities of dealing with a large group of offenders.
A cohort (roughly 480 soldiers) selected for punishment by decimation was divided into groups of ten; each group drew lots (sortition), and the soldier on whom the lot fell was executed by his nine comrades, often by stoning or clubbing. The remaining soldiers were often given rations of barley instead of wheat (the latter being the standard soldier's diet) for a few days, and required to camp outside the fortified security of the marching camp.
Because the punishment fell by lot, all soldiers in a group sentenced to decimation were potentially liable for execution, regardless of individual degrees of fault, rank or distinction.
If ever these same things happen to occur among a large group of men... the officers reject the idea of bludgeoning or slaughtering all the men involved [as is the case with a small group or an individual]. Instead they find a solution for the situation which chooses by a lottery system sometimes five, sometimes eight, sometimes twenty of these men, always calculating the number in this group with reference to the whole unit of offenders so that this group forms one-tenth of all those guilty of cowardice. And these men who are chosen by lot are bludgeoned mercilessly in the manner described above.
In digital signal processing, decimation is the process of reducing the sampling rate of a signal. Complementary to interpolation, which increases sampling rate, it is a specific case of sample rate conversion in a multi-rate digital signal processing system. Decimation utilises filtering to mitigate aliasing distortion, which can occur when simply downsampling a signal. A system component that performs decimation is called a decimator.