Ken Vollmar

Educational Background

Ph.D. in Computer Science from Southern Methodist University, with a concentration in Algorithms. Ph.D. research was on algorithms and implementations for video compression, especially the DCT as used by MPEG.

Our work was supported by a grant from Cyrix Corp., makers of Intel-compatible x86 CPUs. Our research supported the design of instruction sets and efficient implementations of the Discrete Cosine Transform for MPEG video coding and decoding.

My Ph.D. dissertation research can be divided into primary areas which are summarized in the following outtakes:

  1. Algorithms and implementations for the Discrete Cosine Transform using SIMD operations, suitable for implementation on Intel's new MMX chip.
  2. Analysis of the number of bits needed during internal computation of the Discrete Cosine Transform for an 8x8 MPEG coefficient block in order to pass the IEEE Precision Test (Std. 1180-1990).
  3. Description of a system for partial encryption of an MPEG bitstream, such that the bitstream remains MPEG-compliant and displayable by a standard MPEG decoder.
  4. Analysis of the IEEE Std. 1180-1990 precision requirements and conversion of the 8x8 requirements into equivalent standards for a 1x8 DCT, such that an 8x8 DCT implemented with compliant 1x8 DCTs is itself compliant with the original standard.

1997: Ph.D., Computer Science, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, TX.

1990: M.S., Computer Science, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, TX. Thesis title "On the Generation of Steiner Minimal Trees for Vertices on a Convex Polygon." The thesis was extended and published as "On the Enumeration of Steiner Tree Topologies for the points on a circle," 1993, with Yanjun Zhang. SIAM Journal of Discrete Mathematics, Vol. 6, No. 2, pp. 329-333.

1984: B.S., Computer Engineering, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH.

1984: B.A., Mathematics, Monmouth College, Monmouth, IL.


From 1984-1996, I was employed by Lockheed Martin Tactical Aircraft Systems in the Mission Planning Software group.

For a virtual tour of the LMTAS plant and the products, see the online version of the public relations magazine Code One or the tour of the plant, LMTAS. There is also video at The Video Library.

(Because of changes in corporate ownership, the plant has recently also been known as "General Dynamics, Fort Worth Division" and "Lockheed Fort Worth Division." Since the time I left, Lockheed Martin has bought out Northrop Grumman, and I don't know what the name of the plant is now!)

My assignments consisted of most aspects of computerized ground-based mission planning for F-16 aircraft missions. The task involved large-scale, continuously evolving software projects, using C and Ada in Unix environments.

Group charter was to produce software for USAF-specified hardware to form complete planning systems. The systems were semi-rugged, intended for use in squadron operations center, and were capable of full MIL-spec ruggedness when enclosed in the custom shipping containers. The systems performed mission planning tasks such as munitions placement, fuel economy calculations (including drag and weight of the aircraft), and route selection for threat avoidance. Pilot-entered data and computed data were placed in aircraft-readable form onto a Data Transfer Cartridge of battery-backed RAM for transfer from the squadron operations room to the aircraft on the flight line. The software was ported through several product lifespans (DTC L/R, MSS I, MSS II, AFMSS) and development platforms (Cromemco, PC-compatibles, Silicon Graphics, Sun, Vax and MicroVax).

Supported the entire software lifecycle, from high-level design through code and on-site delivery to evaluation and maintenance. Assignments consisted of most aspects of computerized ground-based mission planning for F-16 aircraft missions:

  • Programmed in C and Ada high-order languages in a rigorous software development environment for long-term software maintenance. The software practices employed conformed to corporate and commercial guidelines, such as the Software Engineering Institute (SEI) Level 3 requirements, for software construction. Software practices included unit test, structured walkthroughs, and configuration control.

  • Created software interface to other products for integrated operation (e.g., existing USAF standard software packages for portions of the mission planning process)

  • Prime investigator on internal R&D during rework of code for transition from alphanumeric to graphic displays. Investigated and developed algorithms for mathematical and computational tasks, such as 3-D display of 2-D imagery, 3-D flythrough and threat avoidance, and manipulation of digital maps for display and output. Designed and programmed the display for "virtual reality" visualization of terrain, flightpath, missile sites, and bomb fragmentation.

  • Formally documented the various stages of software design using the series of documents specified by applicable military directives such as MIL-STD 2167. Described the method and rationale for design decisions, interfaces between components, and the functionality of each software unit.

  • Maintained software continuity and improved functionality through several product lifespans (DTC L/R, MSS I, MSS II, AFMSS) and development platforms (e.g., Silicon Graphics, Sun, Vax and MicroVax)

    Became especially adept at several aspects of software mission planning, including:

  • DTC formatting according to F-16 Interface Control Document

  • Munitions compatibility and computations, such as drag and weight

  • 2-D digitizing of maps. Conversion of X-Y coordinates to latitude-longitude pairs using the mathematical formulas of curved surface projection which define standard military Lambert Conformal Conic and Universal Transverse Mercator maps.

  • Digital imagery, including "warping" over terrain (i.e., texture mapping with satellite imagery onto terrain database), 3-D viewing, and printing. Simulation of "point of view" scenery to display terrain with respect to a designated viewing position, angle, and azimuth.

    Special tasks as needed, such as:

  • Conversion of a canned demo on a proposed hardware suite to a usable, cartridge-initializing system for evaluation by USAF personnel at Edwards AFB

  • Support of experimental and evaluation mission planning efforts

  • Design and specification of a flyable CD-ROM device to support the memory demands of terrain recognition and navigation

  • Port of entire software suite from a Unix platform to PC, and adaptation of user displays

  • Writing of the Software Development Plan outlining our compliance with corporate and SEI software standard levels. Delivery and presentation to the plant-wide software board.