Research news

Supply and demand…when it comes to power generation if supply outweighs demand it can get very uneconoical as fuel is used at prodigious rates in conventional power stations to produce wattage that goes to waste. Writing in the Asian Journal of Management Science and Applications, a team from Japan discusses the concept of "negawatts" – negative watts – and how they might be traded when power supply exceeds demand.

Masahiro Yamada, Tomoki Fukuba, and Takayuki Shiina of Waseda University in Shinjuku and Ken-ichi Tokoro of the Central Research Institute of Electric Power Industry in Kanagawa, suggest that vast daily fluctuations in the demand for electricity leads to huge and costly inefficiencies. The team has developed a stochastic programming model is formulated for a negawatt planning operation that can manage uncertainty in power demands, the probability of the customer's failure to reduce it, and a way to optimise operations.

"The experimental results show that customers can choose an operation method tailored to their strategy while controlling the value of the failure probability," the team explains. "Compared to using a deterministic model, this stochastic programming model ensures high profits and a stable supply to consumers," they add. The team concludes that with their approach, negawatt planning can be made profitable for the consumer and a stable supply can be attained for the supplier. Such approaches will be essential for many years to come until viable technology for large-scale electricity storage are available and ubiquitous.

Yamada, M., Fukuba, T., Shiina, T. and Tokoro, K. (2020) 'Negawatt planning via stochastic programming', Asian J. Management Science and Applications, Vol. 5, No. 1, pp.40–55
DOI: 10.1504/AJMSA.2020.111517

One of the reasons that prey species migrate is to avoid predators over long time scales, this ultimately has a powerful effect on the balance of predator and prey in a given ecosystem. This is especially the case if the migration is seasonal and the predator lacks the capacity to migrate.

New work published in the International Journal of Dynamical Systems and Differential Equations, looks at how modeling predator-prey interactions in divided into hypothetical reserved and non-reserved areas – the reserved zone is the area to which the prey migrates and is inaccessible to predators – can improve our understanding of the biological phenomenon of migration. Moreover, the creation of artificial reserved zones could be useful in reducing the detrimental effects of climate change, exploitation, random harvesting, poaching, and pollution on prey species without having any significant negative impact on the predators. Prey and predator both deserve a chance at being part of a sustainable, biodiverse environment, after all.

"Several factors should be taken into account in the time of creating protected areas for a particular species, such as the number of individual of species to be protected, the carrying capacity of the reserved area, dynamics of the ecosystem supporting these species and many others," write Jyotirmoy Roy and Shariful Alam of the Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology in Howrah. The team's modeling show how migration into and out of the reserved zone has a powerful effect on the system dynamics, the changing predator-prey balance, in other words. However, the movement of prey from reserved to non-reserved zone has the greatest impact and if that movement falls below a particular threshold then the whole system becomes unstable. Conversely, if there is too great a migration back and forth then the concept of creating a reserved zone becomes meaningless as the prey are essentially perpetually in the purview of the predators.

The next step to modeling such systems will take seasonality into account to create a more realistic system that can be tested more rigourously.

Roy, J. and Alam, S. (2020) 'Analysis of migration pattern of prey species with reserved zone', Int. J. Dynamical Systems and Differential Equations, Vol. 10, No. 5, pp.383–400.
DOI: 10.1504/IJDSDE.2020.111480

Social media, networking, dating apps, and other resources, such as entertainment software, might have a use for an automated system that can analyse a photo of a person's face and determine how beautiful that face might be to other people. Research published in the International Journal of High Performance Systems Architecture, suggests that a deep cascaded forest could be the answer to developing a prediction system of beauty.

The researchers based in China and Italy have used multi-grained scanning to obtain the features of the portrait and then applied multiple random forests to enhance the person's features ahead of classification. Tests with a data set of some 10000 previously categorised portraits showed the new algorithm developed from their approach could accurately assign a degree of beauty, automatically for the people without any eye to behold them.

"The method used in this paper is superior to other methods in feature extraction and prediction accuracy relatively," the team writes. They add that their optimised approach will ultimately offer a stable and accurate facial beauty recognition tool. Of course, as is often remarked beauty is in the eye of the beholder and no automated approach to determining whether someone is handsome, pretty, or other is going to be considered 100% accurate when assessed by real people all of the time.

However, for a dating app or website a rough and ready way to categorise people and so give them a more equitable opportunity to match with a potential new partner could be more successful given that real people really do judge books by their covers however shallow that may seem.

Zhai, Y., Lv, P., Deng, W., Xie, X., Yu, C., Gan, J., Zeng, J., Ying, Z., Labati, R.D., Piuri, V. and Scotti, F. (2020) 'Facial beauty prediction via deep cascaded forest', Int. J. High Performance Systems Architecture, Vol. 9, Nos. 2/3, pp.97–106.
DOI: 10.1504/IJHPSA.2020.111559

Rechargeable batteries are de rigueur in the modern world. We find them in everything from our ubiquitous smartphones and tablets to the electric vehicles in which we taxi ourselves from A to Z. Unfortunately, despite the advances in battery technology, the lithium-ion battery has its inherent problems. For instance, limited discharge time, an ultimately limited number of charge-discharge cycles, high cost of the raw metal, lithium to make them, and their overall bulk and weight. Writing in the International Journal of Powertrains, a team from the UK has looked at the developments around an alternative, the lithium-sulfur battery, that might find use in electric buses for our cities.

Victor Calvo-Serra, Abbas Fotouhi, Mehdi Soleymani, and Daniel Auger of the Advanced Vehicle Engineering Centre in the School of Aerospace, Transport, and Manufacturing at Cranfield University, in Bedfordshire, explain how they have used MATLAB/Simulink software to build and simulate an electric bus of a similar model to those currently used in London. The software also models a putative lithium-sulfur battery and compares activity and efficiency with conventional lithium-ion batteries used in such vehicles.

"The results demonstrate that the proposed Li-S battery pack can fulfill the requirements of an electric city bus in terms of power while achieving a considerable increase in vehicle's range," the team writes. However, they point out that current Li-S cell prototypes also suffer from limited cycling life that precludes their commercial development for the time being. However, once that limitation is overcome, the technology could ultimately drive forward the move to longer journeys for electric buses. Indeed, there is much promise in Li-S batteries and many advances have been made over the last ten years. It will be interesting to see, after such a long wait, whether three all turn up at once in the very near future.

Calvo-Serra, V., Fotouhi, A., Soleymani, M. and Auger, D.J. (2020) 'How suitable is lithium-sulphur battery for electric city bus application?', Int. J. Powertrains, Vol. 9, No. 4, pp.265–288.
DOI: 10.1504/IJPT.2020.111227

Cryptocurrencies are a revolutionary monetary system. They are decentralized, essentially unhackable, and represent a novel and disruptive alternative to monetary systems controlled by banks and governments. The value of various cryptocurrencies has waxed and waned, but at the moment one of the more well-known is riding high at a record-breaking valuation. A review in the World Review of Entrepreneurship, Management and Sustainable Development considers the growth, opportunities, and future prospects of cryptocurrencies.

Shweta Goel of the department of Management Sciences at Jagannath Institute of Management Sciences in New Delhi and Himanshu Mittal of the Department of Computer Science at Jaypee Institute of Information Technology in Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India, suggest that cryptocurrencies can be regarded as the safest mode of transferring money and making payments internationally. Moreover, they represent a system that is beyond the control of governments, banks, and even law enforcement, a fact that has its pros and cons in the wider scheme of commerce, international relations, and crime-fighting. They suggest that the likes of Bitcoin, Ripple, Ethereum, etc have over the last decade or so changed the financial sector in unimaginable ways and have yet revealed their full potential especially as the world responds and evolves in the wake of the global Covid-19 pandemic.

While many everyday people still perceive folding cash money as the most "real" of currencies, organisations and individuals across a wide range of business sectors have recognised the unfolding of cryptocurrencies. This area of finance, despite some perceived limitations and purported but surmountable authoritarian controls, is likely to grow considerably in the medium to long term. In the short term, there will be a gradual understanding and a shift in perception that will facilitate that long-term recognition and growth.

Goel, S. and Mittal, H. (2020) 'Economic, legal and financial perspectives on cryptocurrencies: a review on cryptocurrency growth, opportunities and future prospects', World Review of Entrepreneurship, Management and Sustainable Development, Vol. 16, No. 6, pp.611–623
DOI: 10.1504/WREMSD.2020.111391

There are numerous software applications, apps, that can identify birds, trees, flowers, and other living things all with varying degrees of accuracy. New research published in the International Journal of Intelligent Engineering Informatics offers a new approach to flower identification.

Abdulrahman Alkhonin, Abdulelah Almutairi, Abdulmajeed Alburaidi, and Abdul Khader Jilani Saudagar of the Information Systems Department at the Imam Mohammad Ibn Saud Islamic University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, explain how flowers are a big part of our lives in the aesthetic and recreational, educational, and even medicinal contexts and beyond.

Deep learning algorithms have been widely used recently in the fields of image processing and computer vision.

The team's new algorithm has been trained on a variety of photos of four well-known flower types – sunflower, dandelion, rose, and tulip. The resulting application tested with colour photos on the Android mobile operating system could then identify new photos of dandelion flowers with an accuracy of 94.6%, sunflowers at 92.5%, tulips with 95.7%. For roses the recognition rate was a little lower at just under 90%. They explain that increasing the training data set will allow the accuracy of the algorithm to be improved.

The team adds that in future work they will incorporate an augmented reality feature in the application as extension that would help with flower identification out in the field, as it were.

Alkhonin, A., Almutairi, A., Alburaidi, A. and Saudagar, A.K.J. (2020) 'Recognition of flowers using convolutional neural networks', Int. J. Intelligent Engineering Informatics, Vol. 8, No. 3, pp.186–197.
DOI: 10.1504/IJIEI.2020.111246

The concept of a powered exoskeleton has been discussed widely in the context of science fiction and in industry where a human operator exploits robotic components that allow them to wield much greater strength in lifting and moving objects than is normally humanly possible. However, a robotic exoskeleton might be just as useful for the infirm who struggle with everyday mobility.

Writing in the International Journal Advanced Mechatronic Systems a research team from India discusses the design and potential of a lower-limb robotic exoskeleton for otherwise immobile older people. The system could help overcome one of the more common problems – rising from a seated position to standing from a chair.

Vishnu Vardhan Dadi, P.V.N.S. Sathwik, D. Mahesh, Dala Jaswanth, Karthik Kumar, M.M. Ramya, and D. Dinakaran of the Hindustan Institute of Technology and Science, Chennai, have designed their exoskeleton so that it can be adapted to varying body shapes, height, weight, and waist circumference. Modelling in Ansys workbench predicts the maximum loads, and static characteristics of the design as well as revealing the vibrational properties of the system. The design can bear 350 kilograms, which is well beyond the 100 kg person for which it was initially designed. Follow-up studies will investigate dynamic characteristics and responses of the design.

Dadi, V.V., Sathwik, P.V.N.S., Mahesh, D., Jaswanth, D., Kumar, S.K., Ramya, M.M. and Dinakaran, D. (2020) 'Structural design and analysis of a lower limb exoskeleton for elderly', Int. J. Advanced Mechatronic Systems, Vol. 8, Nos. 2/3, pp.65–74.
DOI: 10.1504/IJAMECHS.2020.111302

The received wisdom is that the advent of social media has changed our lives significantly, it affects many aspects of business, entertainment, sport, and day to day living. But, according to researchers in the USA writing in the International Journal of Business Forecasting and Marketing Intelligence little research has been done to investigate its role on behavioural and political change. They hope to remedy that situation in the context of the impact of social media on the citizens of Sudan in their seeking civil government and the ensuing uprising.

The Sudanese Revolution led to the overthrow of President Omar al-Bashir after thirty years in power in April 2019 following widespread street protests in December 2018 and months of sustained civil disobedience. Ashraf Attia, Merve Yanar Gürce, Rana Fakhr, and Barry Friedman of the State University of New York at Oswego, USA, explain how social media is used by billions of people and that its platforms, most famously Facebook and Twitter have influenced our lives and perhaps even the results of elections and referenda. These tools provide an immediacy in political events from France to the USA, India to Iran, and Nigeria to Malaysia, and many other places besides.

The team suggests that platforms allow people to encourage others to participate in mass demonstrations through the creation of an organic group solidarity. Protestors can mobilize themselves with the help of social media platforms and build a voice that is louder and heard that might ultimately change a government stance or even change the whole government.

In the years before the Sudanese Revolution and coup d'état, economic conditions worsened, food prices escalated, and unemployment among the young increased enormously. Thus a thirst for freedom, democracy, and social justice arose. Social media facilitated the spread of the revolutionary urge and the information that brought together otherwise independent professional unions, rebel groups, and civil opponents with members from diverse race, religious, and ethnic groups. Importantly, it is well known that most of the protestors (80%) were young and 70% of those young people were women.

Attia, A.M., Gürce, M.Y., Fakhr, R.A. and Friedman, B. (2020) 'The impact of social media on Sudan's uprising behaviour', Int. J. Business Forecasting and Marketing Intelligence, Vol. 6, No. 3, pp.186–203.
DOI: 10.1504/IJBFMI.2020.111374

Science, philosophy, and religion all attempt to distill the essence of reality, the essence of being – albeit from very different points of departure. Writing in the International Journal of Foresight and Innovation Policy, Austrian scientist Franz Moser presents a foresight paper that looks at humanity's path from ignorance to knowledge and how ego structures have evolved into truth. Moser points out how our history is littered with war, misery, and suffering, yet none of our philosophical meanderings of whatever kinds have reconciled us. None has yet pulled us out of the paradigm that leads to that state of being to give us a new holistic paradigm.

"The present world view, the Newtonian paradigm, confronts us with a divided world of contradictions, antagonism, and egotism," writes Moser. This arises from the basic human delusion of dualism wherein we imagine mind and matter to be separate rather than our minds, our consciousness, emerging from the electrochemistry of our brains. "Ego illusions prevail and dominate man's behaviour towards his fellow man and towards himself," adds Moser.

Our modern scientific understanding and our spiritual lives also thus exist in a dualistic place. The next evolutionary steps in the wellbeing of humanity must find a holistic approach that allows what one might have thought of as the heart and mind to become one and to guide us forward to a better world where misery, suffering, and war are greatly reduced if not entirely precluded from the human condition. The current philosophical paradigms cannot correct this dualistic world view at any level.

Ultimately, once we cast off the dualism, humanity can move from a place of ignorance, scarcity, and fear to knowledge and truth.

Moser, F. (2020) "Mankind's path from ignorance to knowledge – from ego structures to truth: a foresight", Int. J. Foresight and Innovation Policy, Vol. 14, Nos. 2/3/4, pp.264-274.
DOI: 10.1504/IJFIP.2020.111241

The way in which strawberry plants propagate has been modelled mathematically and used to develop an algorithm that can help solve complicated problems. Writing in the International Journal of Innovative Computing and Applications, a team from Algeria has shown how such a plant propagation algorithm can be used to decide on an efficient nursing roster in a hospital.

Salim Haddadi of LabSTIC at the 8 Mai 1945 University in Guelma, explains that the nurse rostering problem is a combinatorial optimisation problem that has to be solved in every healthcare institution. It is a computationally hard problem with huge numbers of possible solutions and so requires a sophisticated approach that can find the optimal solutions from that huge number. There are many additional constraints on the solutions that might be tenable in a healthcare environment because nurses with different skills are needed at different times. There are also many regulations that must be complied with in the healthcare setting. Such constraints make solving the problem even tougher than a roster for shop assistants would be, for instance.

Plants have evolved many different propagation strategies. The most obvious is sexual reproduction which produces seeds that are dispersed by various mechanisms and grow into new plants. However, some plants, such as the strawberry plant can produce runners that branch from the main plant and generate new plants asexually with roots implanted from those new buds along the branches. The way in which strawberry plants project these runners and the positions of the new asexual offspring along the runners is determined by the plant's sensing of sunlight, moisture levels, and nutrient concentrations. If conditions are inadequate when shorter runners are sent out, the parent plant will allow the runners to grow longer before a new plant bud forms to set roots. The algorithm models this process as a proxy for positioning nursing staff in the roster.

Haddadi, S. (2020) 'Plant propagation algorithm for nurse rostering', Int. J. Innovative Computing and Applications, Vol. 11, No. 4, pp.204–215.
DOI: 10.1504/IJICA.2020.111229

Journal news

Newly published title: International Journal of Family Business and Regional Development

Dr. Jian Sun from Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the USA has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Built Environment and Asset Management.

Prof. S.J. Jung from the University of Idaho in the USA has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Mining and Mineral Engineering.

Associate Prof. Sasha Baglay from the University of Ontario Institute of Technology in Canada has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Migration and Border Studies.

Dr. John W. Roberts from the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Nuclear Knowledge Management.

Dr. Matteo Rossi from the University of Sannio in Italy has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Behavioural Accounting and Finance.

Prof. Zafar U. Ahmed from the Academy for Global Business Advancement in the USA has been appointed to take over editorship of the Journal for International Business and Entrepreneurship Development.

Associate Prof. Andy Connor from the Aukland University of Technology in New Zealand has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Creative Computing.

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