A Decision Support System to Ease Operator Overload in Multibeam Passive Sonar

Iain Rice, David Lowe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Creating human-informative signal processing systems for the underwater acoustic environment that do not generate operator cognitive saturation and overload is a major challenge. To alleviate cognitive operator overload, we present a visual analytics methodology in which multiple beam-formed sonar returns are mapped to an optimized 2-D visual representation, which preserves the relevant data structure. This representation alerts the operator as to which beams are likely to contain anomalous information by modeling a latent distribution of information for each beam. Sonar operators therefore focus their attention only on the surprising events. In addition to the principled visualization of high-dimensional uncertain data, the system quantifies anomalous information using a Fisher Information measure. Central to this process is the novel use of both signal and noise observation modeling to characterize the sensor information. A demonstration of detecting exceptionally low signal-to-noise ratio targets embedded in real-world 33-beam passive sonar data is presented.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)100 - 110
Number of pages10
JournalIEEE Journal of Oceanic Engineering
Issue number1
Early online date9 Jan 2018
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2018

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  • Anomaly
  • fisher Information
  • neuroScale
  • visualization


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