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additional work is needed to transform these experimen-tal devices into stable elements for standards applications. Also, standard fields need to be developed, in order to cal-ibrate these probes of the future.
1. M. Kanda, Standard probes for electromagnetic field mea-surement,
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National University of SingaporeSingapore
1. INTRODUCTION1.1. Definition of Electromagnetic Inverse Problems
Electromagnetic inverse problems, also known as
electro-magnetic inverse scattering problems
, aim to recover in-formation on some inaccessible region from the scatteredelectromagnetic fields measured in the exterior region [1].This region (hereafter referred to as ‘‘scatterers’’) could behomogeneous or inhomogeneous, of any dimension, withor without electromagnetic scatterers embedded. The in-formation of interest is the location, shape, size, electricalproperties (penetrable or impenetrable), and electromag-netic constitutive parameters. Most of the electromagneticinverse problems can be considered as ‘‘active,’’ where aknown incident field is artificially applied to illuminatethe inaccessible unknown scatterers to give rise to scat-tered fields, which is measured at some accessible area.There are some cases, however, such as passive remotesensing, in which the scattered electromagnetic fieldsfrom the unknown scatterers are not due to such artifi-cially applied incident electromagnetic fields. Usually, thescattered electromagnetic fields are measuredover limiteddomain of aspect angle, frequency, and polarization, andare contaminated by noise and measurement error.Electromagnetic inverse scattering is concerned withhow we can obtain a large part of information about theworld surrounding us. An everyday example of electro-magnetic inverse problems is human vision; from themeasurements of scattered light that reaches our retinas,our brains construct a detailed three-dimensional map of the world around us. This is a highly automated process,and most of us do not stop to reflect on how difficult thisproblem is. In fact, a large part of the human brain isdevoted to such activities.It should be pointed out that this definition of electro-magnetic inverse problems is made in a narrow sense. Infact, all synthetic problems in electromagnetics, for exam-ple, the design of microwave filters and the synthesis of antennas, and many others, can be regarded as electro-magnetic inverse problems. However, we will stick to thisnarrow definition of the electromagnetic inverse problems,unless otherwise stated.Electromagnetic inverse problems and electromagneticscattering problems come in pairs. For a given electro-magnetic scattering problem, a priori information on thesize, shape, and material constituents of the scatterersand the incident electromagnetic fields is provided, andthe scattered field is calculated for a specific area and fre-quency domain. The electromagnetic community has em-braced scattering problems with a warmth that is notgenerally extended to inverse problems. In fact, our train-ing on electromagnetics is dominated by direct problems(in the general sense), while inverse problems continue tobe regarded as very new and challenging research topics.Note that electromagnetic inverse problems belong to amuch wider class of inverse problems and are closely re-lated to inverse problems in acoustic and elastic waves. Itis also known that some techniques used in one field areidentical, at least in principle, to those used in other, com-pletely different fields. These interdisciplinary applica-tions of the inversion techniques are drawing increasingattention. Hence, although we focus on electromagneticinverse problems here, other fields of inverse problemswill be touched on slightly where necessary.
1.2. Some Mathematical Challenges in ElectromagneticInverse Problems
Electromagnetic inverse scattering problems and the as-sociated electromagnetic scattering problems are highly
mathematical. This is an ideal area for applied mathema-ticians. Electromagnetic inverse problems provide a richsupply of challenging mathematical problems.
1.2.1. Electromagnetic Scattering.
Studying an electro-magnetic inverse problem always requires a solid knowl-edge of the corresponding direct scattering problem.Unfortunately, the study of electromagnetic scatteringproblems is very far from complete. For example, the cur-rent level of understanding on wave propagation in com-plex media and random media remains very poor.
1.2.2. Nonlinearity.
The scattering problem is linear inthe sense that for a known scatterer, the relationship be-tween the incident field and scattered field is linear. How-ever, for electromagnetic inverse problems, we areinterested in the relationship between the scatterer andits action on the incident fields. This relationship is in-herently nonlinear.
1.2.3. Ill-Posedness.
According to Hadamard [2], aproblem is well-posed if it has a unique solution that de-pends continuously on the given data. Problems that arenot well-posed are known as ill-posed. In general, electro-magnetic inverse problems are ill-posed. The ill-posednessof electromagnetic inverse problems comes from the in-complete and contaminated measurement data, and theexistence of a nonradiating source.For an ill-posed electromagnetic inverse problem, thefollowing questions must be addressed:
: Is there any solution?
: Is the solution unique?
: Is the solution stable? In other words, dosmall perturbations of the measured scattered fieldsalways result in small perturbation of the solution?
1.3. Applications of Electromagnetic Inverse Problems
 Although the electromagnetic inverse problem is a rela-tively new area of applied mathematical research, it hasbeen increasingly used in scientific, military, medical, in-dustrial, agricultural, and many other civil areas. Sincethe mid-1980s we have witnessed an explosion in the ap-plications of electromagnetic inverse problems.
1.3.1. Scientific Applications.
Electromagnetic inverseproblems have been enormously influential in the devel-opment of natural sciences, with great advances in scienceand technology made possible through their solutions.Electromagnetic inverse problems could lead to the estab-lishment of physical laws via indirect observations. Theirsolutions provide us with a wealth of scientific informa-tion: the discovery of DNA structure through solving X-ray diffraction problems and the structure of the atom andits constituents from studies on the scattering phenomenawhen materials are bombarded with particles. Over theyears, electromagnetic inverse problems have played anincreasingly important role in many scientific areas, suchas archaeology, seismology, geophysics, optics, materialscience, and meteorology.
1.3.2. Military Applications.
The area of electromagnet-ic inverse problems was strongly stimulated by the greatsuccess in military applications during World War II,which witnessed the invention of radar and sonar for de-tection and identification of both friendly and hostile ob- jects. As the world is not devoid of violence and war,military demands on electromagnetic inverse problemscontinue to increase. As an example, for people living incountries under the threat of landmines left over fromearlier wars, safe detection and removal of these land-mines using electromagnetic waves is a lifesaving method.On the other hand, increasingly powerful radar, spy sat-ellite networks, and missile defense systems are beingbuilt to defend against attacks from terrorists and hostilecountries.
1.3.3. Medical Applications.
So far, besides military ap-plications, medical imaging is one of the most successfulapplication areas of electromagnetic inverse problems. Infact, the X-ray radiography machine is used in almost ev-ery hospital to diagnosis tuberculosis and other anomaliesin the human body. In 1972, G. N. Hounsfield introduced anew radiographic imaging procedure, X-ray computer-assisted tomography (CAT). A picture of the CAT appara-tus in a hospital is shown in Fig. 1. It is replacing theconventional and obsolete X-ray radiography machines inmany hospitals. More recently, even some CAT machineshave been replaced by more advanced nuclear magneticresonance imaging machines for more accurate diagnosis.
1.3.4. Industrial Applications.
The electromagnetic in-verse problems are of commercial value to the industries.Oil companies, for example, determine the location of oilthrough solving inverse scattering problems. A significantfraction of the computational workload is performed bythe oil companies. In fact, much of the recent resurgence
Figure 1.
CAT apparatus in a hospital.(
in the oil industry is due to improvements in mathemat-ical algorithms that allow scientists to ‘‘see’’ through saltlayers to detect the oil-bearing strata below.Ground penetrating radar (GPR) is a highly commer-cialized solution for nondestructive evaluation (NDE) thatproduces a continuous cross-sectional profile or record of subsurface features, without drilling, probing, or digging.The GPR for a shallow survey is shown in Fig. 2. Groundpenetrating radar profiles are used to evaluate the loca-tion and depth of buried objects such as pipes and cables,and to investigate the presence and continuity of naturalsubsurface conditions and features.The commercial aviation industry has also benefitedsignificantly from solving electromagnetic inverse prob-lems. For example, it is now mandatory for passengers toreceive security check, including metal detection, beforeboarding. Other industries taking advantage of electro-magnetic inverse problems include nuclear energy, food,construction, and marine enterprises. For example, thenondestructive evaluation of steam generator tubes is amajor issue in the nuclear industry.
1.3.5. Agricultural Applications.
Electromagnetic in-verse problems are also very important to agriculture. InChina, a large amount of effort has been put into predict-ing the national crop harvest using remote sensing tech-niques and monitoring the coverage of plants withinChinese territory.
1.3.6. Other Civil Applications.
Electromagnetic in-verse problems are also applicable to many other civil ar-eas. For example, the environment can be monitored usingremote sensing techniques.
1.4. Some Outstanding Research Groups
Electromagnetic inverse problems have been one of themost challenging areas in electromagnetics. Manyresearch groups and researchers from both within andoutside the electromagnetic community have devotedtheir efforts to study the fundamental theory of inverseproblems, develop inversion algorithms for particularcases, produce real datasets to test the developed algo-rithms, develop prototypes for practical applications, andcommercialize the developed prototypes. Because of thelarge number of researchers and groups involved in thisarea, it is not possible to list all of them. However, specialtributes should be paid to the following researchers andorganizations for their outstanding work in this field: In-stitut Fresnel (France), W. M. Boerner, R. E. Kleinman, K.J. Langenberg, Rome Laboratory (renamed as Air ForceResearch Laboratory in 1997), and A. N. Tikhonov.Their well-established contributions to this field will behighlighted at the appropriate parts in this article.
1.5. Some Future Directions
The field of electromagnetic inverse problems is a rela-tively new area with apparent potential for applications.However, many problems remain to be solved. Besides thetopics mentioned in this article, the following topics inelectromagnetic inverse problems also require special at-tention.
1.5.1. Three-Dimensional Electromagnetic Inverse Prob-lems.
Researchers in the field of electromagnetic inverseproblems typically simplify their work by concentrating onlower-dimensional problems. Electromagnetic inverseproblems that have been extensively studied usually as-sume geometry of only one or two dimensions, with a half-space or layered medium. However, such an assumption isinsufficient for many practical problems, leading to failureof the inversion algorithms to produce any meaningfulresults.Increasing attention has been devoted to three-dimen-sional electromagnetic inverse problems. Researchers areattempting to extend well-established lower-dimensionalinversion algorithms to three-dimensional cases, as wellas to develop new inversion algorithms focusing on three-dimensional electromagnetic inverse problems.
1.5.2. Electromagnetic Inverse Problems of ComplexScatterers.
Most of the existing inversion algorithms as-sume that the scatterers are simple, that is, isotropic andnondispersive. However, this assumption is not valid formany real scatterers, such as human brains and organs.
1.5.3. Electromagnetic Inverse Problems in ComplexMedia.
Another important issue is the electromagnetic in-verse problem of scatterers in complex media. Some ex-amples of complex media are soil, foliage, sea ice, seasurface, and the human body.
Because of the theoretical and practical significance of electromagnetic inverse problems, extensive studies havebeen performed on electromagnetic inverse problems.
Figure 2.
Shallow ground-penetrating radar surveys. (

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