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Formal Formulations


The Form and Substance Sensors


In a commercial sense, sensors are used for precise measurments, in cases where an imprecision quantity would have serious financial impact.

For example, an imprecise measurement of the amount of gold in a vault, is a serious financial matter. Likewise, an imprecise amount of oxygen in a scuba tank, is a grave matter for the scuba diver.

As sentient beings, pressure is something we also experience, but, without such a guage, we can neither easily nor precisely quantify pressure. This is where science begins, in particular, the intellectual discipline of Physics.

First, the experiential measurement of enumeration is conceptualized and extended to the intellectual realm as a mathematical notation. Next, the notation is used to represent relationships between objects which are physically observable. This representation is ultimately based on the assumption of a strong formal analogy between the intellectual and physical realms.

The Form and Substance of a Sensor is discussed in both the physical and intellectual realms of consciousness.




In the physical realm, a sensor is typically any device which may be employed to quantify a physically observable property of an Object.


The substance of a physical sensor device, in turn, is typically a material which exhibits some novel behavior with respect to physical process of observational interest.

For example, the metal Mercury assumes a liquid form for our "living range" of temperature. Further, it expands and contracts in a very predictable manner, and, therefore, is an excellent candidate for making thermometers, for when the measurement may be read visually.

With respect to the Internet, we are interested in Sensors which measure physically observable processes and provide the measurement in an electronic form, e.g., a datastream of text via an RS-232 connection.

Naturally, most Sensors of this kind will rely on some novel electronic behavior with respect to physical process of observational interest. There can be very advanced, and expensive, science involved.

From an arhitectural perspective, we are interested in Sensors as common devices which exactly and faithfully transforms the measurable substance of an Object from the physically observable form, into an electronic digital form.

Subsequent activity deals with the measurable substance in an intellectually conceptual form, and defines the function of SensiView.


The form of a Sensor will typically have two formal components.

The first component is the "probe" which directly experiences the measurable substance of the process being observed. It is the "probe" which affects the novel electronic behavior. Visually, a "probe" has the form of a length of common wire, with a small device at one end, and with a plug at the other.

The second component is the "controller" which interperts the affected state, of the first component, and then, records the interpertation in an electronic form, for subsequent transmission. Thus, the visual form of a Sensor appears as a box with input connections from the Sensor "probes", and a single output connection to a Windows95 platform.




In the intellectual realm, a sensor is manifested as a well-defined data stream of quantified measurements.


In the intellectual realm, the substance of a Sensor provide an interface function between distinct realms of conscious perception.


In the intellectual realm, the form of a Sensor is that of a transformation mapping which exactly and faithfully transforms the measurable substance of an Object from a physically observable form, into an intellectually conceptual form, i.e., an absolute numeric quantity, with respect to the dimensionality of the physically observable event.




The commercial use of Sensors focuses in two areas: detection and prevention. Both of these motivations are essentially defensive in nature.

This is the natural role of Sensors, in the most general sense. The role is a passive one, and is intended only to inform other components of the whole system for subsequent processing.

In the discussions of the physical Substance of a Sensor, above, it was noted that the distance between the components of a Sensor is a consideration.

Likewise, in terms of defensive considerations, the time delay between detection by the Sensor, and the end-user becoming informed of the event, is a significant issue. In fact, the method of how the user is informed also becomes an issue.

The following sections discuss Sensor Systems from the perspective of space and time considerations.


There are two fundamental questions in regard to the spacial location or placement of Sensors:
           Q1: How many are there ( Count )?

                       A: Very few --> Very many.

           Q2: How far apart are they ( Separation )?

                       A: Very close together ---> Very far apart.

Further, the effective domain of the Sensor is an issue, and the domains of Sensors, which are close enough, may overlap to produce redunant readings. However, the effective deployment of Sensors, at a site, is not the issue being addressed here. Rather, the intent here is to provide a matrix, such as:

      Count   1  5  10  50  100  500  1000  5000  >5000
   Distance +-------------------------------------------+
            |                                    Retina |
        mm  |                                     Ears  |
            |                                           |
      inch  |                                           |
            |                                           |
      feet  |     Case                                  |
            |         House                             |
    100 ft  |                                           |
            |                                           |
   1000 ft  |                                           |
            |           Neighborhood                    |
    1 mile  |                                           |
            |                                           |
    5 mile  |                                           |
            |                                           |
   >5 mile  | Radar                             Weather |

The intention of quantative sensors is focused towards discrete, analytical measurement events, where the derivative continuity may be assumed, and, away from continuous, analogical descriptive processes,

The former intent is amenable to a rigorous mathematical treatment, in a DataBase, cross-correlation, tabulation sense. This aspect is easy and no one is allowed to argue with it. Formal procedure are guarenteed to work. That is why they are called formal. If someone argues, they are either an idiot or politically motivated. Either way, they are an idiot.

The later intent has components of quality, in contrast to a purely mathematical description, and can, at best, only be approximated, by the rigor of a purely analytical, mathematical treatment.

This is the realm of artificial intellegence and natural stupidity. There are lots of arguements here. However, quality is not quantity, and an effective qualitative description will remain in the realm of human subjectivity for the foreseeable future. This is a very limited area at present, mostly confined to universities and specialized research companies.

Pattern recognition, as the detection of recurrent forms, is still in its infancy. When it steps out of its infancy, we will witness the emergence of a new life form.


From the instant when the Sensor experiences and records the physical process and observation, to the instant when the end-user becomes aware of the observation, is called the "informing lag time".

As such, the "informing lag time" may be anything from mirco seconds, as in automatic navigation systems, to months, where a long-term monitoring program is active.

Further, there is a hybred requirement in several applications, where a long term moitoring program has need of a premptive alarm.

In general, we may think of an alarm system as being a system with a critical "informing lag time" requirement. That is to say, when a particular Sensor reading exceeds some threshold, it becomes critical to inform the appropriate parties, in a predetermined manner, within the "informing lag time". Thus, we may say that an alarm system has a real-time, critical lag requirement.

In order to push the "informing lag time" to period of less than a minute, requires high-reliability, dedicated hardware connection.

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Updated 96/05/25.