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Maths formulas could find missing MH370: experts

English.news.cn   2014-06-03 13:46:05
• Optimal searching and Bayesian statistics can help the Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 search effort.
• Optimal searching determines how to spread search effort to maximize the chance of detection.
• Bayesian methods can be used to boost small data sets with expert opinion to get most out of the data.

 

SYDNEY, June 3 (Xinhua) -- A series of complex mathematical formulas used to find the wreckage of Air France Flight 447 in 2011 could be used to solve the mystery of MH370, Australian academics have said.

It took two years but statisticians eventually found the Air France Flight on the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean using special formulas.

Professor Michael McCarthy of the University of Melbourne told News Corp Network News that optimal searching and Bayesian statistics were two maths formulas that can help the Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 search effort, which is concentrated across a vast area of the Indian Ocean off the west coast of Australia.

"Optimal searching determines how to spread search effort to maximize the chance of detection," he said.

This technique, developed in World War Two to hunt for submarines, maps the probability of the presence of a target.

Bayesian methods can be used to boost small data sets with expert opinion in order to get the most out of the data.

Associate Professor Adrian Barnett of the University of Queensland said while the probabilities will be broad, statistics can still offer some insight.

He said techniques such as the Bayesian inference can be used to add weight to hunches and direction to decisions.

"The Bayesian estimates in this case would be a map of probabilities which would be used to guide the experts on where to look," Barnett said.

When authorities searching for the missing Air France Flight plugged in to the Bayesian inference statistical technique, a set of probabilities were produced for the whole search area.

The statistics allowed for one crucial variation: That the black boxes may have failed to activate their locator beacons.

With just such a possibility taken into account, the search was guided back to the start-point by the simple overlapping concentration of probabilities and the plane was eventually located.

As for finding MH370, Barnett said these maths formulas can be very useful.

"It's definitely the right approach, and one that will hopefully find the plane in the shortest amount of time," Barnett said.

Related:

China's efforts in MH370 search "unprecedented": Malaysian PM

BEIJING, May 31 (Xinhua) -- China and Malaysia on Saturday vowed to continue underwater search for the missing Malaysia Airlines jet MH370 "until it is found."Full story

Xi urges Malaysia to improve MH370 search plan

BEIJING, May 30 (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday urged Malaysia to come up with an improved search plan for the missing Malaysia Airlines jet MH370.Full story

Editor: Yamei Wang
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