John O'Sullivan (engineer)
|Significant advance||Technology underlying OFDM used in 802.11 Wireless LANs|
|Significant awards||Prime Minister's Prize for Science|
John O’Sullivan is an Australian electrical engineer whose work in the application of Fourier transforms to radio astronomy led to his invention with colleagues of a core technology that made wireless LAN fast and reliable. This technology was patented by CSIRO and forms part of the 802.11a, 802.11g and 802.11n Wi-Fi standards.
In 2009 O’Sullivan was awarded both the CSIRO Chairman’s Medal and the Australian Prime Minister's Prize for Science.
Fourier transforms and WiFi
In 1977 John O'Sullivan co-authored a paper in the Journal of the Optical Society of America titled "Image sharpness, Fourier optics, and redundant-spacing interferometry" with J. P. Hamaker, and J. E. Noordam. In this paper, they presented a technique for sharpening and improving picture clarity in radio astronomy images.
In the early 1990s, O'Sullivan led a team at the CSIRO which patented in 1996 the use of a related technique for reducing multipath interference of radio signals transmitted for computer networking. This technology is a part of all recent WiFi implementations. As of April 2012, the CSIRO has earned over $430 million in royalties and settlements arising from the use of this patent as part of the 802.11 standards with as much as a billion dollars expected after further lawsuits against other parties.
- 1974 Doctor of Philosophy (Electrical Engineering), Sydney University 
- 1969 Bachelor of Engineering, H1, University Medal, Sydney University
- 1969 Sydney University Sports Blue (Hockey)
- 1967 Bachelor of Science, Sydney University
Career highlights, awards, fellowships and grants
- 2009 (Australian) Prime Minister’s Prize for Science
- 2009 CSIRO Chairman’s Medal
- 2005–present Systems Engineer, CSIRO Australia Telescope National Facility
- 2004–2006 Lead Signal Processing Architect, G2 Microsystems
- 2001–2004 Director IC Systems Engineering, Cisco Systems
- 2000 CSIRO Medal for development and application of fast Fourier transform technology
- 1999–2001 Vice President Systems Engineering, Radiata Communications
- 1995–2000 Director Technology, News Ltd
- 1989–1995 Deputy Chief of Division, CSIRO Radiophysics
- 1983–1989 Head of Signal Processing Group, CSIRO Radiophysics
- 1974–1983 Head of Receiver Group, Netherlands Foundation for Radio Astronomy (now ASTRON)
- Achieved an eight-fold increase of the bandwidth processing capacity of the Westerbork Radio Telescope as project leader for the digital continuum backend receiver
- Participated in a series of innovative experiments to detect exploding black holes and other short time astronomical events
- Developed an intellectual underpinning for adaptive optics in light telescopes and redundant baseline interferometer in radio telescopes
- With Austek Microsystems created a fast Fourier transform computer chip. This VLSI chip consisted of 160,000 transistors and performed real time transforms at rates up to 2.5 Msamples/s
- Influential role in the system design for the Australia Telescope
- Led a CSIRO team comprising Graham Daniels, John Deane, Diethelm Ostry, Terry Percival who together invented a patented technology that uses fast Fourier transform and other techniques to enable fast, robust wireless networking in the home and office
- Led the system design for the world’s first 802.11a (WiFi) chipset developed by Radiata Networks
- Over 40 scientific and technical papers at numerous industry conferences
- Granted 12 patents in the area of special purpose FFT processors, Wireless LANs and antennas
- Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and Institute of Engineers Australia
- Member of international review committee for information and communications technologies in CSIRO
- Member of Australian Square Kilometre Array Consultative Committee
- Chair of the Mathematics, Information and Communication Sciences Expert Advisory Committee, Convenor ICT Appraisal committee, 2004 CRC selection round
- Optical Society of America
- Board Director AAPT, Taggle Systems
- Hamaker, J. P.; O'Sullivan, J. E.; Noordam (1977), "Image sharpness, Fourier optics, and redundant-spacing interferometry", J. Opt. Soc. Am. 67 (8): 1122–1123, doi:10.1364/JOSA.67.001122
- EP 0599632
- "802.11a-1999 High-speed Physical Layer in the 5 GHz band" (pdf). 1999-02-11. pp. 6..7. Retrieved 2011-02-11.
- Older WiFi implementations which only support 802.11b do not use patented technology
- Moses, Asher (1 June 2010). "CSIRO to reap 'lazy billion' from world's biggest tech companies". The Age (Melbourne).
- "CSIRO wins legal battle over Wi-Fi patent". The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (Melbourne). 1 April 2012.
- 2009 Prime Minister’s Prize for Science award citation
- US The present invention discloses a wireless LAN, a peer-to-peer wireless LAN, a wireless transceiver and a method of transmitting data, all of which are capable of operating at frequencies in excess of 10 GHz and in multipath transmission environments. 5487069, O'Sullivan, John D.; Graham R. Daniels & Terence M. P. Percival et al., "Wireless LAN", published 23 January 1996