Better surveillance through math

Tuesday, April 13, 2010 @ 05:04 PM gHale


By using sophisticated algebraic theories called groups, rings and fields, the Air Force could soon achieve advances in object and target detection technology.

Better detection methods will allow for effective reviewing of photographic, video and radar images to facilitate military planning and order of battle.

“This technology is the result of several remarkable insights by two innovative mathematicians, Dr. Myoung An and Dr. Richard Tolimieri,” said lead researcher, Dr. Richard A. Albanese of Air Force Research Laboratory, which oversees the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR), which funded the project.

A related technology created by An and Tolimieri for the U.S. Navy was successful in detecting shallow water mines by means of sonar, which is like radar but with sound waves instead of electromagnetic waves, but the Air Force is adapting the methodology to examine images for surveillance purposes.

In the past, careful human review of a large amount of surveillance material required a huge investment of time. This new technology cuts the time overhead by 99%, officials said. However, even with the vast improvements the new technology brings, the human factor is still essential in several aspects such as the validation and verification of transmitter and receiver configurations.

“One challenge of the research is the matching of the algebraic structure to the data and problems at hand,” Albanese said. “We are applying algebraic structures to data index sets and in this way finding patterns that were not easily detectable before.”

Through bringing in even more advanced algebraic structures, the researchers believe they will come up with enhancements that detect subtle patterns or features under conditions of dust, fog, bushes and other visual obstructions.



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