About Research, Researcher and Noise!


About Research, Researcher and Noise!

Volume 8 Issue 6 News & Resources | June 2015





Civilization and technology:

The progress of civilizations throughout millennia has always been tied to the progress of knowledge and technology. From the intricate and complex Mayan structures on top of very steep mountains to the great pyramid in Egypt right down to the ingenious water channel system of the Romans and the brilliant concept of optics and mechanism of seeing proposed by the Muslim scholars, the proofs of the link between progress and know-how is an undisputed fact. The more emphasis was given to the accumulation and realization of knowledge and technology, the more advance a nation or civilization becomes. In order to have the best practices in anything we do, the main prerequisite is solid foundation of knowledge. These know-how and appropriate tools will enable the best way in doing things and fulfilling the expected outcome. It is a like a short-cut to success. Insufficient knowledge and inappropriate technology will make the journey to be very long-winded and inherently doomed right from the start. The inventions of written words and documenting tools (incl. printing system) have enabled all the know-how and generated technologyto be shared. The continuous critical look at the current body of knowledge has also ensured an organic growth and expansion of solutions to new and emergent problems in societies and nations at large. The group of people entrusted to critically evaluate and expand the boundaries of knowledge and technology are the researchers and students of knowledge residing in various institutes of higher learning and independent research centers. The dynamic characteristic of knowledge and technology will always be the catalyst to push new progress in itself and other aspects of civilizations.

The ideal researcher:

The prime mover of innovation is the researcher himself. An ideal researcher is a person entrusted to develop an innovative, creative and novel solution which will contribute directly to the overall progress of his company, society and nation. His work is fully supported by solid funding, facilities and flexible time-frame. He will work collaboratively with other researchers working on the same research objectives. An ideal researcher would not be interrupted by unnecessary and unconnected tasks to his main research objectives. Nobody will hassle and disrupt his research efforts and will strive to disengage him from any distractions. The ideal researcher is given full autonomy to manage his research plan and execution. His research environment is very supportive and he will be highly regarded in society for his commitment to his work. This ideal environment provided will ensure 100% commitment by the researchers to hiswork. The ideal researcher will not start from zero and will intelligently utilize the available body of knowledge to move forward. The ideal researcher is willing to bridge the gaps between different disciplines of knowledge and not bogged down by field compartmentalization and specialization. His interest is to seek novel solution and problem-solving methods, i.e. generating novelty in the processes and tools for solution-seeking. The ideal researcher is given the academic freedom to venture into new ideas and chart new way forward. In him lies the future of the nation and survival into the new millennia. Alas, the ideal researchers only exist in our mind and dreams. What we are left with is the not-so-ideal researchers and whatever they are capable of. We need to do a lot of soul searching. This is so because, whilst we desperately need the novel and real solutions from our fellow researchers, we are not really making their endeavor easier. The responsible parties must reevaluate the overall support to researchers. Researchers can only so much. The rest still depends on others.

Research noise:

Any system developed which involve sensing and signal processing will be exposed to the effect of noise. The source of noise can be internal or external. Noise is normally considered as an undesired signal which interferes with proper parameter detection and processing. This interference will then affect the accuracy of measurement and the final actuation taken to affect the current output of the system. Researchers have developed various filters to “catch” or take-out these undesired signals from the measured signal. The frequency based filters is tuned to filter specific noise. For example; internal noise, such as white noise, generated by electronic components in the hardware circuits will be filtered using a high frequency filter module. Other type of low frequency noises such baseline line oscillation due to power line 50Hz frequency will be addressed by just a simple hardware filter. Noises in discretized signal can also be filtered using the software approach. In fact many more methods are available for signal noise filtering, once the measured signals are discretized. The Signal-to-Noise (SNR) is one measure of system ability to handle noise input. One example of hardware approach to cancel noise effect is the Common-Mode Rejection Ratio (CMRR). Different methods are available to handle noise. Some other types of “noise” are image artifacts. These noises will affect the quality of images captured. Image processing researchers have developed many image-based algorithms to extract such artifacts. In general noise signal is an undesired element in sensing and measurement requirement. Though now, synthetic noise has been used to eliminate or cancel the effect original noise sources. The most important lesson which we can take from this short discussion on noise is that the ability to handle “noise” or disruption is critical to all researchers. In most cases noise is an unwanted disturbance, but in some specific cases, noise presence is critical. The choice is ours.

Last point!

The signals which we assumed to be disruption or disturbance to our system may need to be further evaluated. The most important step is to extract the noise characteristics such as frequency spectral, power content and amplitude. The next step is to determine the noise source and how much it affects the measured data for specific application. For sure, it is nearly impossible to totally eliminate noise elements from our system, but we can surely find ways to minimize its effect.

“Noise proves nothing. Often a hen who has merely laid an egg cackles as if she laid an asteroid” – Mark Twain


Written by :
Assc. Prof. Dr. Mohd Rizal Arshad
School of Electrical & Electronic Engineering
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