By combining his undergraduate studies in electrical and electronic engineering with applied mathematics, a young assistant professor at The University of Western Australia and his team have devised complex algorithms for a new military target-tracking system.
An algorithm is a process of steps for making calculations, named after a ninth-century Persian (Iranian) mathematician who first combined Arabic and Indian numerals and algebra at a time when Baghdad was a world centre for science.
However, Professor Vo's technology owes more to a probabilistic concept developed by a Presbyterian minister, Thomas Bayes, in the 18th century. Published posthumously by one of his friends, Bayes' Theorem led to a new interpretation of probability theory.
Today, the UWA team, in collaboration with another team of researchers, led by Associate Professor Ba Ngu Vo from the University of Melbourne, has developed a unique algorithm that can be used for tracking soldiers, vehicles and planes on the ground and in the air.
In the past, tracking has been dogged with inaccuracies, partly due to the levels of analysis and computing power required. The new system applies Bayesian statistical inference to give accurate positional readings.
As well as defence, the algorithm could be used in any situation needing remote sensing, such as security management and robotics.