Scientists develop imaging tools

Edinburgh scientists are leading research to develop a new generation of imaging techniques.

Researchers from the University of Edinburgh, Heriot-Watt University and University College London are joining forces on the project, which will help create ultra-high resolution images of the universe and of the human brain.

Physicists, engineers and computer scientists from the School of Informatics, School of Engineering and the EPCC are to take part in the £2 million project.

High resolution

The project will use a new mathematical theory, known as compressive sampling, to develop new imaging tools.

The theory provides a way to recover complex images from a small amount of data, which was previously thought impossible.

The research will enable scientists to reconstruct ultra-high resolution images using data from radio telescopes, such as the flagship Square Kilometer Array telescope, which is due to come online in 2023.

This telescope will have an unprecedented number of antennae extending over both Africa and Australia.

It should support the search for extraterrestrial life, further probe Einstein’s theory of gravitation, and reveal mysteries of the dawn of the universe.

Novel applications

Radio astronomical imaging urgently needs to be re-invented in the context of ultra-precision and big data, and compressive sampling has huge potential for this.

Dr Yves WiauxSchool of Informatics

The project will investigate ways to redesign telescope array configurations, so that each data point gathers the optimum amount of information.

Novel powerful algorithms run by supercomputers will also be designed and applied to reconstruct ultra-high resolution images of the sky.

The new techniques may also be used in other fields of science and technology. They will enable faster magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) brain scans and could help create new diagnostic methodologies for neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.