2013 Starship Congress Speaker Announcement – Prof. David Messerschmitt: “Power Efficiency in Interstellar Communication”

2013 Starship Congress Speaker Announcement – Prof. David Messerschmitt: “Power Efficiency in Interstellar Communication”

Professor David Messerschmitt has been announced as a speaker for Icarus Interstellar’s 2013 Starship Congress, with the following talk:  Power Efficiency in Interstellar Communication.

David G. Messerschmitt is the Roger A. Strauch Professor Emeritus of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences (EECS) at the University of California at Berkeley. At Berkeley he has previously served as the Chair of EECS and the Interim Dean of the School of Information. He is the co-author of five books, including “Digital Communication” (Kluwer Academic Publishers, Third Edition, 2004). He served on the NSF Blue Ribbon Panel on Cyberinfrastructure and co-chaired a National Research Council (NRC) study on the future of information technology research. His doctorate in Computer, Information, and Control Engineering is from the University of Michigan, and he is a Fellow of the IEEE, a Member of the National Academy of Engineering, and a recipient of the IEEE Alexander Graham Bell Medal recognizing “exceptional contributions to the advancement of communication sciences and engineering”. For the past few years he has been researching end-to-end interstellar communication design.

Following is the abstract for Professor Messerschmitt’s talk Power Efficiency in Interstellar Communication:

A major obstacle to communicating with other civilizations at interstellar distances at radio wavelengths is the lack of coordination in transmitter/receiver design. We propose to deal with this by optimization with respect to relevant resource consumption in light of the observable interstellar impairments, which include interstellar propagation effects (noise, plasma dispersion, and scattering) and motion effects. In communication there are two primary resources, the transmitter’s energy requirement for radiated power and the signal bandwidth, and there is a direct tradeoff between the two.

In view of the large distances and the large microwave window available, we argue that energy consumption should take priority in interstellar communication, as distinct from most terrestrial systems that primarily conserve scarce spectrum. The fundamental limit on energy consumption for interstellar communication is a wakeup call that the types of signals currently anticipated in SETI searches are inefficient by multiple orders of magnitude. We briefly review a set of five principles of transmit signal design that collectively can asymptotically approach that fundamental limit. These principles teach us that transmit signals should have wide bandwidth and consist of energy concentrated sparsely in both time and frequency.
Although signals with these characteristics will not be discovered by current SETI search methodologies, we review the discovery challenge and discuss how current searches can be modified to seek these energy-conserving signals. Information-free beacons as well as information-bearing signals can be sought simultaneously.

For more details on the presentation you can access Prof. Messerschmitt’s paper “End-to-end interstellar communication system design for power efficiency” on the Cornell University Library site.