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John O'Sullivan (engineer)

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John O'Sullivan
O'Sullivan in 2013
EducationUniversity of Sydney
Engineering career
AwardsPrime Minister's Prize for Science
M. A. Sargent Medal

John O'Sullivan is an Australian engineer.

Fourier transforms and WiFi[edit]

In 1977, John O'Sullivan, while working at the Dwingeloo Radio Observatory in the Netherlands, co-authored a paper in the Journal of the Optical Society of America titled "Image sharpness, Fourier optics, and redundant-spacing interferometry"[1] 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.[2] 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.[3][4]

O'Sullivan joined Morse Micro in 2019. The Sydney-based company is developing a Wi-Fi microprocessor, now known as Wi-Fi HaLow.


  • 1974 Doctor of Philosophy (Electrical Engineering), Sydney University [5]
  • 1969 Bachelor of Engineering, H1, University Medal, Sydney University[5]
  • 1969 Sydney University Sports Blue (Hockey)[5]
  • 1967 Bachelor of Science, Sydney University[5]


Research highlights[edit]

  • 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[7]
  • 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


  1. ^ Hamaker, J. P.; O'Sullivan, J. D.; Noordam, J. E. (1977), "Image sharpness, Fourier optics, and redundant-spacing interferometry", J. Opt. Soc. Am., 67 (8): 1122–1123, Bibcode:1977JOSA...67.1122H, doi:10.1364/JOSA.67.001122
  2. ^ Older WiFi implementations which only support 802.11b do not use patented technology
  3. ^ Moses, Asher (1 June 2010). "CSIRO to reap 'lazy billion' from world's biggest tech companies". The Age. Melbourne.
  4. ^ "CSIRO wins legal battle over Wi-Fi patent". The Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Melbourne. 1 April 2012.
  5. ^ a b c d 2009 Prime Minister's Prize for Science award citation Archived 2011-02-21 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ Invention: Wireless LAN for high speed data transfer
  7. ^ US 5487069, O'Sullivan, John D.; Daniels, Graham R. & Percival, Terence M. P. et al., "Wireless LAN", published 23 January 1996 . 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.

External links[edit]