Why I did PhD?

One of my best friends said,

It is a thousand times better to have common sense without education than to have education without common sense. (Robert Green Ingersoll)

However is education a collection of common-sense over time?  Having mistakes and most suitable solutions in black & white.  However completing a PhD does not make you an almighty and all knowledge as the quotes mentioned below says.

Education’s purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one.  (Malcolm Forbes)


PhD Pillars

  • Responsible Conduct of Research
  • Academic honesty and plagiarism
  • Intellectual Property
  • Copyrights
  • Obtaining ethics approval
  • Research Data and Records
  • Environment Health and Safety

What I gained from PhD?

  • Project Management from the day one to the end,  planning weekends, balancing PhD study and life outside, meeting publications deadlines working with other co-authors
  • Software Engineering to have own models developed in variety of computer languages overcoming computer language barriers to reach the required outcomes
  • Communication: Reading critically, writing interestingly to get the attention of the audience irrespective whether they are in PhD graduates area or not, presenting succinctly, marketing their solutions, meeting strict publication guidelines.
  • Collaboration: Developing the skills to work with several supervisors from a range of disciplines, international links via conferences
  • Subject Matter: Knowing the most and best in a niche area of study
  • At the end, PhD graduate need to develop good marketing & transferable skills where he or she needs convince the employers what they can bring to an organisation though academe or industrial.

Skills Summary

  • Problem Solving (System, Scientific & Engineering approaches and non depending on disciplines)
  • Communication (Dissemination of research findings)
  • Project Management (Submit papers before deadlines, Agile)
  • Software Engineering (Solutions non-dependent on Computer Languages, Software, Hardware)
  • Collaboration (Working in multi-disciplinary  teams)
  • Subject Matter (Computing, Turbulent Environments, Random Fields, Statistics, Mathematics, Sensors, Complex Networks, Multi-Smart Agents)
  • Marketing & Transferable
  • Teaching (Students from divisive cultures, ages, knowledge levels)

Note: A PhD student produces Journal papers, conference papers, book chapters and articles which are considered as products and therefore tenure as a PhD student is considered as an employment by the University.  Therefore  PhD students do not get same benefits such as Travel Concessions as Undergraduate students In Australia. 

Hidden facts underpinning my topic

Beauty of Biological World


Inspiration to study sensors and collaborative sensing


In the biological world, the insects such as bees can detect the fragrance from a
flower and identify the source using the biological sensors. Their sensory faculties
are very stable after being refined through evolution. When we consider humans,
there are five senses (i.e., vision, hearing, smell, touch, taste), and all discoveries
and assumptions are built on these senses as were identified by ancient wisdom.
In Buddhism, these sensing phenomenon are well explained (i.e., ‘Rupa’ or images,
‘Wedana’ or sensing, ‘Sandgha’ or signals, ‘Sankara’ or signal patterns, ‘Widjana’ or
knowledge based on identified signal patterns). When we visualize something, we feel
it and a signal is generated, and the brain identifies the visual object. In the modern
world, multi-sensor data fusion behaves as per the principals identified thousands of
years ago.  (Reference my Thesis)

Selecting sources

A prominent Sinhalese text, ‘Subashita’ states,  Thought you got 100 merit-less children, it is no use, child with good merit and human qualities is the best,  Like one moon lights up the world, many stars cannot dispel darkness.  Similar though we activate many sensors, we need only the good quality sensors to predict a hazardous leak accurately.


The Melbourne Experience enables graduates to become:

academically excellent
knowledgeable across disciplines
leaders in communities
attuned to cultural diversity, and
active global citizens.

Graduation Ceremony

Graduation Ceremony on 21st March 2015, it includes an Inspiring speech by Mr. Russell Caplan, LLB(Melb), FAICD, FAIM; Chairman of Orica Limited and a Non-Executive Director of Aurizon Limited; former Chairman of Shell and Director of Woodside Petroleum.

Path to PhD

My papers are listed HERE.

First Year (Literature Review & Confirmation Report):


Exploring the problem space & exploring solutions. Literature Review is the most important.
In my case, though i have quoted only around 100 references,  I got 483 references in my list, which I have gone through.
Output:  Confirmation, the
formal (and public) presentation
of the research proposal

Preparing for Conformation Talk for Graduate Research School (Preparing for Conformation Presentation)

Things to consider:

  • Developing specific skills courses, e.g. in statistical methods or computer
  • If English is not the candidate’s first language, student need to be referred to the Academic Skills Unit or
    to other resources for help with research or writing skills
  • Candidates are encouraged to make a presentation to their department or school annually; additional professional
    development activities may include:

    • tutoring and teaching opportunities
    • writing a paper for publication or presentation at a conference
    • representative roles in departmental student groups
    • enrolling in UpSkills courses, in additional subjects or in on‐line programs such as Postgraduate Essentials
      undertaking short courses or certificate courses such as the Graduate Certificate in Advanced Learning and

Second Year (Grounding on Topic):

Output: A Progress Report – demonstrating a study two-thirds
completed, Presenting supervisor supported papers.


Third Year (Submission to higher grade Journals, rigorous presenting of facts):

Submission of stronger topic related papers and presenting in York, Edinburgh UK.
Output:  A first full draft…and
onwards to submission,
Presenting papers fully individually compiled by candidate. 


PhD Stages from University of Queensland

What I did for PhD?

Background requirements for PhD, the PhD Attributes.


My PhD Thesis can be viewed HERE.

My PhD studies in brief:

I investigated the use of sensor networks for timely and efficient detection of chemical, biological and radiological leaks.  I developed bio-inspired techniques for detecting such threats in a timely manner, while saving energy to prolong sensor lifetime.  These new methods will have both civilian and military applications.

(This is written to be understood even by a fifth grader, in case this is too complex, great if you can let me know, -Thanks)

Thesis (long Abstract):

Bio-inspired algorithms for data fusion in hazardous threat detection

Bio-inspired systems focus on the design, development and understanding of systems composed of algorithms that mimic the behaviours or processes of biological entities. In order to achieve a better abstraction, these bio-inspired algorithms can be constructed on a multi-agent platform which comprises multiple interaction between autonomous agents. These components are equipped with cognitive and processing abilities and have access to information extracted from the environment. In our endeavour to explore the viability of using bio-inspired algorithms in chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear environments, we carried out four research studies.

First, we present a numerical verification of a simple population and physics-based epidemiological model for dynamic collaboration in a network of chemical sensors. The modelling approach is based on the known analogy between the information spread in a sensor network and the propagation of epidemics across a population. In this framework, we verify the derived analytical expressions, which relate the parameters to the network (e.g., number of sensors, their density, sensing time, etc.), with parameters of the external challenge (e.g., the chemical pollutant) and the environment (e.g., turbulence). Using numerical simulations of wireless sensor networks with random, line and circle topologies, we show that simulated and analytical results agree.

Secondly, we apply the epidemiology based protocol to a wireless chemical sensor network in a chemical environment with spatial characteristics. The chemical tracers dispersed by turbulent motion in the environment display rather complex and even chaotic properties. Meanwhile, chemical tracer detecting sensors with air sampling o consume significant energy, hazardous chemical releases are rare events which will not require continuity in detection. If all sensors in a wireless chemical sensor network (WCSN) are left in the active state continuously, it would result in significant power consumption. Therefore, dynamic sensor activation is crucial for the longevity of WCSNs. Moreover, the statistical characteristics of chemical tracers to be detected (temporal and spatial correlations, etc.) and placement of chemical sensors can also become the key parameters that influence the WCSN design and performance. In this research study, we investigate the effect of the spatial correlation of a chemical tracer field, and also the effect of network topology, on the performance of a WCSN that employs an epidemiology-based dynamic sensor activation protocol. We present a simulation framework that comprises models of the spatially correlated tracer field, individual chemical sensor nodes, and the sensor network. After validating this simulation framework against an analytical model, we perform simulation experiments to evaluate the effect of spatial correlation and network topology on selected performance metrics: response time, level of sensor activation, and network scalability. Our simulations show that the spatial correlation of the chemical tracer field has a detrimental effect on the performance of a WCSN that uses an epidemiological activation protocol. These results also suggest that a WCSN with random network topology has poor performance compared to one with a regular grid topology in this application.

Thirdly, we apply a gossip based protocol to the wireless chemical sensor network to overcome the detrimental effect of the epidemiological protocol. In this study, we investigate the performance of a variant of epidemiology based protocols, the gossip based sensor activation protocol of a WCSN in a chemical tracer field. The simulation framework with the gossip protocol is validated against an analytical model. We then perform simulation experiments to evaluate the performance of the gossip-based sensor activation protocol on selected performance metrics: the sensor activation and chemical tracer detection. We show by simulations that, by varying the communication radii of sensors; we can achieve better energy conservation while maintaining better performance of a WCSN with a gossip-based activation protocol which was the drawbacks of the epidemiological protocol in a turbulent environment.

Fourthly, we explore the possibility of localising a radiological source using bio-inspired genetic algorithms. We consider localisation of point sources of gamma radiation using dose rate measurements. As bio-inspired genetic algorithms, we use binary and continuous genetic algorithms (GA). They are used to implement maximum likelihood estimation (MLE) of the position and strength of point radiation sources. MLE was achieved by minimising the objective function which computes the negative log likelihood. Real experimental data collected during a field trial was used to test and verify the performance of the algorithms. The performance of the GA based implementation was compared to an implantation that used gradient descent optimisation. Source parameters estimated by the algorithms were also compared to the theoretical bounds obtained using a Cramer-Rao bound (CRB) analysis, which quantifies the accuracy with which it is possible to localise the source and estimate its strength. All three implementations localised a single-point source well, nearly approaching the CRB. Reasonable position estimates were achieved for two and three source cases, but the source strength estimates were found to have much larger root mean square (RMS) errors than that predicted by CRB. While the GA-based implementations took longer to converge compared to the gradient descent algorithm, they encountered fewer divergent runs than the latter algorithm. Also we examine the data collection geometries that influence the topography of objective function surfaces in radiological source localisation. It is shown that data gathered along the circumference of a circle around a point a radiation source has an associated mirror image source of different strength that exists outside the circle. It appears that data acquired along an irregular path generated using the random walk algorithm to eliminate the image sources making source parameter estimation easier.

Given these considerations, it is evident that Bio-inspired algorithms are viable solutions for CBRN data fusion.

PhD Reports

  1. ReflectionSummaryPhD
  2. allreportsPhD


What I did for Masters

Optimised Sink Trajectories for Sensor Networks

The performance of the Wireless Sensor Network (WSN) depends on the location of the sink node in the sensor field, assuming the sensor nodes to be relatively stationary. Most researchers have used static sink nodes and some have used multiple sink nodes. In this research study, I propose a mobile sink node for efficient data collection while maintaining the efficient performance of the network. I introduce a technique to obtain the optimum path of the sink node in a network of stationery sensor nodes, considering practical constraints such as the limitation in the sink movement. The proposed evolutionary computer-based simulator, PSO-SIMSENS, is an integrated system of particle swarm optimisation and a sensor network simulator, with suitable fitness functions derived from the SIMSENS traffic parameters. This system can be used in manufacturing applications and in disaster monitoring. Based on the results obtained from simulations, it is deduced that the proposed system achieves an efficient WSN with maximum field coverage while the sink node is mobile.

My MastersThesis is available as a book in Amazon, HERE.

Marketing & PhD

It is important that PhD student in his final explore the possibilities of transferable knowledge.  In my case how can one see the similarities of a Wireless Chemical Sensor Network and a consumer Market.  In simple sense, sensors are the humans and sensors communication would be the marketing word to mouth.  Turbulent Chemical environment is the human population.  My PhD topic can well used for a human population and analyse the propagation of a message across communities.

Interesting LInks

Interesting R&D

Having a part of my career in Research & Development attending and presenting several conferences, I had the privilege to have dinner in following interesting places,

  • Science Museum, London (Hosted by APCOM’98)
  • Town hall, Vienna, Austria (Hosted by Mayor, Vienna)
  • Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, Brisbane, Australia

Being in R&D, you have the option to increase your intellectual social network, be a techno gate keeper and visiting interesting places.

Useful Tools

  • Excel workbook for whole Thesis
  • Rationale Software to get the logic out
  • Write or Die software for writing
  • Daily research planning template & noting outcome of research

Interesting reading

Other related studies

Lego & ARM Processor Programming


Social Structures & Interaction


Graphical User Interfaces



Graduates look back… the best aspects of the PhD

  • I learnt so much about my research area, my ability …and my endurance.
  • I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to work in a world-class laboratory
    …it really was an invaluable experience.
  • Doing a PhD you learn more about what is important to you.
  • It was a strengthening experience of self-awareness, self-direction and self-reliance.
  • Learning to endure and remain positive, solving problems with appreciative
    guidance from a caring supervisor, setting timed goals and achieving them.
  • The PhD was a unique opportunity for me to explore an original idea.
  • The most stimulating aspect was the opportunity to have regular discussions,
    not only with my supervisor, but also the other academics in the department as
    well as fellow students.
  • The PhD taught me independence, to justify my ideas and to be persistent.
  • I was able to research a topic I was passionate about.
  • …nothing at work has compared to completing a thesis!
(The PhD Calendar by Stella Clark and Richard James, The University of Melbourne, 2008).


A mythical metaphor for learning… by Tom Clark

According to Snorri Sturluson’s Edda, a thirteenth century Icelandic textbook on poetic style, the gods
possessed the best boat of all time, named Skidbladnir. It was the biggest of ships and it had two
magical properties that set it aside from any other large ships. First was that, whenever it was
becalmed, it could summon a wind from any direction to fill its sails. Second was that it could be
folded up so small and light you could carry it in your pocket.
Skidbladnir is the best metaphor for the value of learning I have yet come across. Part of the attraction
is its evocative suggestion of a good that is valuable in absolute terms, is of minuscule encumbrance,
and is capable of transforming the very conditions in which it operates. Those three qualities define
learning very well. Especially the learning that characterises original research.
[Tom Clark  was a PhD student who in 2002 was employed as Advocacy Manager for  the University of Melbourne Postgraduate Association]

My Studies and PhD

Updated on 2016-07-30T11:15:26+00:00, by admin.