Darko Mušicki, 1957-2014

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In memoriam Darko Mušicki, 1957-2014.

Quite unexpectedly for most of us, the information fusion community has lost Darko Mušicki, one of its pioneering personalities, on June 8, 2014 in Ansan City, Korea. Darko, born on April 2, 1957 in Belgrade, Serbia, was not only pushing ahead the frontiers of research in our rapidly evolving branch of applied science, but also generously shared his knowledge with a new generation as an academic teacher, most recently at Hanyang University, Korea. Many of us, however, have also lost a warm-hearted, humble, inspiring colleague and friend who enthusiastically shared his ideas and immensely loved lively discussions.

Figure 1: Darko as he was known to most of us – presenting at FUSION 2008 in Cologne. Germany.

Darko’s posthumous papers had to be presented by others. This clearly shows how rapidly Darko was snatched from the very middle of his life as a passionate researcher. His very last paper, Generating Function Derivation of the IPDA Filter, authored by himself, Taek Lyul Song, and Roy Streit, deals with a “hot topic” in our community. This paper builds on Darko’s careful analysis and evaluation of the “Integrated Probabilistic Data Association (IPDA) filter” and its multi-target variants as he was beginning his exploration of point process and random set methods for tracking filter design. The paper was presented by his personal friend Roy Streit at the ISIF/IEEE Workshop Sensor Data Fusion – Trends, Solutions, Applications in Bonn on October 9, 2014. Darko had been looking forward to coming back again to this workshop in Germany, this “little sister” of the grand FUSION conferences, since he stayed in Germany for an extended research visit at Fraunhofer FKIE in 2007.

Darko’s work with his German colleagues is an example that highlights the character of his attitude as a researcher who combined mathematical skills with proven sense for practical engineering solutions to solve problems in emitter location, a research area to which he contributed many papers in his career. By properly approximating complicated probability density functions he effectively fused measurements of time and frequency differences of arrival (TDoA/FDoA) for mobile intermittent emitter geolocation and tracking. Darko’s work laid a sound theoretical foundation for the development of practical state of the art algorithms in these applications.  

Darko received his B.A. (1979) and M.S. (1985) degrees in Electrical Engineering from the University of Belgrad, Serbia. A university document calls him “the best student of his generation” and “the first student in the history of the Department to graduate one year before target date”. This exceptional young engineer proved his pioneering personality while taking the opportunity to immigrate to Australia when the “iron curtain” was lifted. There he received his Ph.D. degree in 1994 from the University of Newcastle. Darko was a Principal Research Fellow at the University of Melbourne, Australia, before he joined Hanyang University in 2010 as a full professor. Research and teaching were for him two sides of the same coin – he loved his students and his students loved him.

Darko’s research interest were in the very core of our community covering topics such as multiple target tracking, classification, nonlinear estimation, emitter geolocation, fusion in distributed wireless sensor networks, resource allocation, and applications for radar and sonar. He has authored many articles in archival journals such as the IEEE Transactions on Aerospace and Electronic Systems, Automatic Control, and Signal Processing, IET radar, sonar and navigation as well as Automatica. In 2011, he co-authored the well-established text book Fundamentals of Object Tracking, Cambridge University Press. 

Figure 2: Darko as ISIF president at FUSION 2008 in Cologne, FUSION’s 10th anniversary with former ISIF presidents (Left to right: James Llinas, Yaakov Bar-Shalom, Pramod Varshney, X. Rong Li, Chee Chong, Dale Blair, Pierre Valin †, Erik Blasch).

Being a member of the Board of Directors of International Society for Information Fusion ISIF since 2005, Darko has shaped the profile of our community, especially when he served us as an ISIF president in 2008, when our young society celebrated its 10th anniversary at FUSION 2008 in Cologne, Germany.

Darko was a Christian. May all of us remember in our thoughts and prayers Darko, his wife Dragana, his daughter Korana, and his son Luka. 

Submitted by Wolfgang Koch