Chaos to calm mobile madness

Chaos to calm mobile madness

Engineers at Staffordshire University are to throw the phone system into chaos – for the sake of getting a better service. Researchers from the School of Engineering and Advanced Technology are to apply chaos theory – the branch of mathematics used to explain chaotic systems – in an attempt to unravel the cordless and confused world of mobile phones. The group is investigating ways to help telephone networks to cope with increasing numbers of calls without expanding the communications infrastructure.

Chaos theory is a branch of mathematics that attempts to explain why seemingly simple systems, such as weather and economics are still so unpredictable even though we have a lot of information and they seem to follow straightforward rules. Experts in chaos try to find patterns and laws where non-experts see only – chaos.

A team of researchers, led by Professor Rolando Carrasco, will harness the complex theory to improve the performance of existing mobile telecommunications systems rather than expanding the networks.

“The increased use of mobile telephones, ISDN lines, satellite communications, cable networks and other digital communications systems is starting to put an immense strain on existing networks,” says Professor Carrasco. “It is not that these networks are laid on another, but they speak different digital ‘languages’. The complexity grows as you try to move information from one language to another.”

“We will use chaos theory in the same way that transport experts have looked at traffic flows to reduce congestion on roads,” explains Professor Carrasco. “But instead of following the movement of cars, we are monitoring the flow of information.”

The way the team will make sense of the apparent chaos of digital data is by turning the flow of figures into graphics and images and define what is happening from the patterns that they see.

Staffordshire University has established itself as a world-leader in the area of communications research and will be working closely with BT throughout the three year project. Professor Carrasco added, “We are delighted that our work in the field of telecommunications has been recognised and I am sure that users of mobile telephones and other forms of digital communications will benefit from this latest research.”

On-line for improved service

Mobile phone users are set to benefit from the work of Staffordshire University student Maja Benson. Maja has become the first woman at Staffordshire University to be awarded a PhD in Engineering after completing a thesis to develop practical techniques to utilise the airwaves better to accommodate so that more users of mobile phones.

Such techniques as neural networks and signal processing can adapt to improve the performance of cellular mobile phones. Maja has won praise from her supervisor Professor Rolando Carrasco who said: “Hopefully Maja’s groundbreaking work will encourage other women to follow her into Engineering.”

“The University’s School of Engineering and Advanced Technology has always recruited a relatively high number of female students to a traditionally male dominated field.” Maja agrees with Rolando: “I hope that my success in obtaining the PhD will encourage other female engineering graduates to continue their studies on to postgraduate level.

Maja, a former student at the University of Zagreb, Croatia, came to the UK in 1993, to complete her Engineering degree at Staffordshire University, alongside an industrial placement at GEC Alstom at Stafford. During her final year she received the Institute of Electronic Engineers (IEE) Prize for outstanding academic performance which helped her to win sponsorship from GEC. Mija graduated with a First Class Honours degree in Electronic Engineering in July 1994.

Maja began her PhD in October of that year, publishing six conference papers and one journal paper during the course of her research. Her thesis was entitled “Adaptive Space Diversity Algorithms for Mobile Communications”.

Mr Steven Carter Staffordshire University