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Publication# Rate-Distortion Problem for Physics Based Distributed Sensing

Abstract

We consider the rate-distortion problem for sensing the continuous space-time physical temperature in a circular ring on which a heat source is applied over space and time, and which is allowed to cool by radiation or convection. The heat source is modelled as a continuous space-time stochastic process which is bandlimited over space and time. The temperature field is the result of a certain continuous space-time convolution of the heat source with the Green's function corresponding to the heat equation, which is space and time invariant. The temperature field is sampled at uniform spatial locations by a set of sensors and it has to be reconstructed at a base station. The goal is to minimize the mean-square-error per second, for a given number of nats per second, assuming ideal communication channels between sensors and base station. We find a) the centralized R^c(D) function of the temperature field, where the base station can optimally encode all the space-time samples jointly. Then, we obtain b) the R^{s-i}(D) function, where each sensor, independently, encodes its samples optimally over time and c) the R^{st-i}(D) function, where each sensor is constrained to encode also independently over time. We also study two distributed prediction-based approaches: a) with perfect feedback from the base station, where temporal prediction is performed at the base station and each sensor performs differential encoding, and b) without feedback, where each sensor locally performs temporal prediction.

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Related concepts (3)

Rate–distortion theory

Rate–distortion theory is a major branch of information theory which provides the theoretical foundations for lossy data compression; it addresses the problem of determining the minimal number of bits per symbol, as measured by the rate R, that should be communicated over a channel, so that the source (input signal) can be approximately reconstructed at the receiver (output signal) without exceeding an expected distortion D. Rate–distortion theory gives an analytical expression for how much compression can be achieved using lossy compression methods.

Sensor

A sensor is a device that produces an output signal for the purpose of sensing a physical phenomenon. In the broadest definition, a sensor is a device, module, machine, or subsystem that detects events or changes in its environment and sends the information to other electronics, frequently a computer processor. Sensors are used in everyday objects such as touch-sensitive elevator buttons (tactile sensor) and lamps which dim or brighten by touching the base, and in innumerable applications of which most people are never aware.

Time

Time is the continued sequence of existence and events that occurs in an apparently irreversible succession from the past, through the present, into the future. It is a component quantity of various measurements used to sequence events, to compare the duration of events or the intervals between them, and to quantify rates of change of quantities in material reality or in the conscious experience. Time is often referred to as a fourth dimension, along with three spatial dimensions.