Experimental Application of Bayesian Inference to Wide Area Urban Source Search

Dr. John Mattingly

Associate Professor, Department of Nuclear Engineering

Chief Scientist, Consortium for Nonproliferation Enabling Capabilities (CNEC)

North Carolina State University


John Mattingly will present an experimental application of Bayesian inference to the problem of wide area urban source search.  This application seeks to estimate the a-priori unknown location of a radiation source from a collection of detector measurements in an urban environment. Prior work has investigated the application of trilateration, maximum likelihood estimation, and Bayesian inference to similar source localization problems; however, the prior work does not address the complication of estimating source location when highly attenuating objects (i.e., buildings) occlude the detectors’ view of the source. NCSU has coupled a simplified model of gamma transport through a heterogeneous medium with a Markov Chain Monte Carlo sampling procedure to estimate the posterior distribution of probable source locations given a collection of detector measurements, and we have evaluated the accuracy and precision of this method for source localization in an experimental application designed to mimic the conditions encountered in wide area urban source search.

About John Mattingly

John Mattingly has worked as an Associate Professor of Nuclear Engineering (NE) at North Carolina State University (NCSU) since 2011.  At NCSU, John directs a team of graduate students and post-docs conducting research on applications of neutron and gamma radiation detection, imaging, and inverse analysis to nuclear nonproliferation, emergency response, and forensics.  John serves as the Chief Scientist and Principal Investigator of the National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA’s) Consortium for Nonproliferation Enabling Capabilities (CNEC), where he directs and coordinates the research of professors and students at ten universities and scientists at four national laboratories, all of whom are developing new technologies and policies to support the next-generation of proliferation detection and deterrence capabilities.  Prior to joining the NCSU faculty, John worked at Sandia National Laboratories from 2003 to 2011 and Oak Ridge National Laboratory from 1997 to 2003.  He earned his Ph.D. in NE from University of Tennessee in 1998.

Seminar PDF

Stream the recorded seminar HERE