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Professor Joseph K. Y. Ng Got a Patent from the German Patent Office

Professor Joseph Ng, Professor of the Computer Science Department of Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU), is among a team of Hong Kong and German researchers who have received a patent from the German Patent Office for a breakthrough project that has wide applications in industry, transport and space research.

The project solves the clock synchronization problems arising from transmission delays that occur when a message is transmitted from one computer to others at different locations within the same network. The researchers also solved the problem of transmission delays arising from temperature differences among different locations.

Professor Ng says the breakthrough is beneficial to real-time systems where the correctness of the system depends on both the correctness of the computation and the time the result is generated. These systems can be found in railway systems, air traffic control, space projects, power stations and auto plants.

The project, entitled “Clock Synchronization in Nodes on a Ring Bus”, has been carried out by Professor Ng with Professor Wolfgang Halang and Dr. Thomas Erdner of the Fern University, Hagen, Germany. Professor Ng is assisted by his research graduate Mr. Stephen Chan.

This is the first time Professor Ng has won a patent, and he is glad the team’s work has been recognised.

Professors Ng and Halang, experts in real-time systems, successfully bid some years ago for a grant from the Research Grants Council under the German/Hong Kong Joint Research Scheme. In 2001, they brought in each other’s research students, Stephen Chan and Thomas Erdner, to conduct a research project entitled “A Fault Tolerant and Jitter Free Fieldbus with GPS Based Time Synchronisation Allowing for Wireless Mobile Operation”.

In a dual ring bus architecture, every message is transmitted in parallel on both data channels but in opposite directions. The research team successfully found out the key to make each slave synchronise its local clock with the clock of the master node every time it receives a message. The research results generated two conference papers and the application for two patents, with one obtained and the other being processed.

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Department of Computer Science, Hong Kong Baptist University
Hong Kong Baptist University