College of Science - City University of Hong KongDelivering real-world applications with mathematical research

Delivering real-world applications with mathematical research

Researchers in the City University of Hong Kong’s Department of Mathematics are delivering practical benefits in a range of fields

Mathematics has a wide range of applications, and this is reflected in the research being undertaken by Raymond Chan, chair professor in the Department of Mathematics and acting vice-president of student affairs at the City University of Hong Kong (CityU). Chan works across many fields but one of his main areas of focus concerns imaging. 

“Ground-based astronomy is one of my key research interests,” Chan explains. “Whenever you take an image of an object in space using a telescope based here on Earth, it is usually blurry. My work looks at how we can use mathematics to deblur the image. Another idea I am looking at is how telescopes can be used to better locate space debris. We are working on using a special lens to identify their 3D locations using a 2D image.” 

Chan’s imaging research does not only concern objects in space. On a much smaller scale, his research can also be used in microscopy to identify the 3D location of points in samples using just a 2D image. 

Alongside the research being conducted by Chan, other faculty members in CityU’s Department of Mathematics are contributing to cutting-edge work. “One major focus area for many of my colleagues involves partial differential equations,” Chan says. “These are equations that can be used to describe real-world physical phenomena, such as how a typhoon moves or to value financial portfolios such as option prices. Much of the modelling being pursued by my colleagues has innovative applications, including the work of one faculty member who developed a biomimetic approach to generate various body shapes that would help in garment designs.”

Chan’s research is similarly being applied to actual use cases. For instance, he has recently worked with one of the largest jewellery firms in Hong Kong to improve the classification of defects in diamonds.

“The creation of real-world applications is a fundamental reason why we pursue research projects at the Department of Mathematics,” Chan says. “The work being carried out by myself and my colleagues focuses on a range of fields, including topics like the automation of distributed smart grid systems. Applying mathematical techniques in the right way can tell us about an individual’s blood flow and pressure, so cardiovascular diseases can be better assessed and predicted.”

Often, the real-world applications that emerge from university research are furthered by collaboration with both industry and government. “In addition to my work with a jewellery firm, I work on a remote sensing project with a team in the US, supported by NASA, to detect illegal mining in Peru. Collaboration in the higher education space naturally crosses international borders.”

Chan’s research has plenty of domestic applications. He is currently working with a local government research centre to explore automated driving in greater detail. “I also co-direct a centre that is aiming to create wearable devices that can provide better predictive capabilities and protection against cardiovascular disease,” Chan says. “To do this, we are looking at ways to use artificial intelligence and a variety of mathematical imaging methods.”

Find out more about the Department of Mathematics at the City University of Hong Kong.

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