# The Most Fascinating Inventions: A Tribute to Professor Möbius

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The realm of physics has given rise to remarkable inventions, none more splendid than the Smith Chart, which elegantly illustrates the conformal geometry of complex analytic functions. This chart serves as a visualization tool for the complex Möbius Transformation, crucial for analyzing delays in radio, microwave, and high-speed networks.

Dedicated to Dr. Don Hewitt, an inspiring figure in my journey of understanding these concepts!

To begin, I must admit my title isn't original. The phrase "The Fantastic Mr. Smith" evokes memories of Roald Dahl's enchanting "The Fantastic Mr. Fox," a story that captivated my children and me. The rhythmic charm of Dahl's title made it a family favorite, and our evenings were often filled with the magical readings by Martin Jarvis, much to the delight of our cats.

Many of the impressive gadgets I've previously discussed, such as the Slide Rule and early computers, have since become obsolete, even before my scientific career kicked off 45 years ago.

Yet, the gadget featured here remains relevant today. In microwave engineering and ultra-high-speed networking, it stands as the intuitive graphical representation of scattering parameters, illustrating how they vary with distance or wavelength due to opposing wave phase delays. Waves traveling in different directions interact with inhomogeneities in their medium, resulting in forward and reverse traveling waves. While the Smith Chart can describe any wave scattering event, its primary application lies in electromagnetic waves interacting with mismatches in spatial objects.

The historical evolution of early concepts like the S-Matrix and the Feynman Diagram in particle physics is intricately linked to the Smith Chart. Physicists, such as Robert Dicke, utilized these concepts during their wartime radar projects. A cherished mentor of mine, Dr. Ian Bassett, recalled that the microwave theory and Smith Chart's S-Parameter originated prior to their adaptation in physics at MIT's Radiation Labs during WWII.

Scattered waves often arise from imperfections in networks, adversely affecting available bitrates in microwave links. Radio communication remains vital, especially during emergencies when cable networks fail, particularly in the face of natural disasters exacerbated by climate change.

Modern network analyzers, essential for troubleshooting microwave and radio networks, frequently utilize the Smith Chart to succinctly display scattering parameter frequency response curves, as these values are complex functions of wavelength.

The Smith Chart is named after Philip Hagar Smith, who formalized it in 1939. However, similar concepts were independently developed by Japanese mathematician T?saku Mizuhashi in 1937 and Russian engineer Amiel R. Volpert in the same year. Many individuals in the microwave and radio communication fields had conceived the fundamental ideas of the Smith Chart long before it became a standardized tool, a point I will explore further.

The Smith Chart, devoid of scattering parameters, showcases two families of non-concentric circles intersecting at right angles. This orthogonality stems from the inherent properties of complex analytic functions and the Möbius transformation. Let us delve into the reasons behind the creation of this remarkable gadget.

## What Is It Good For?

While I've touched on the engineering fields where the Smith Chart is applied, it specifically serves as a graphical calculator that transforms a disruption's impedance into a scattering parameter, namely the reflection coefficient, indicating the magnitude of the reflected wave caused by a disruption. Impedance characterizes how a disruption, such as an Ethernet connection, reacts to the incidence of an electrical wave.

Given the high bitrates required for modern computer networks, it's essential to think of electromagnetic waves rather than electrical circuits. Reflections and scattering can cause significant issues due to delays from the finite speed of light, resulting in potential message loss as wave packets interfere with one another.

We can conceptualize the impedance at a junction as a cause, with the reflections as an effect. Their relationship is encapsulated in a Möbius Transformation, relating the normalized impedance ( z ) and the reflection coefficient ( Gamma ).

Due to light's finite speed and network delays, the phase relationship between propagating waves changes along a transmission line. As we progress to a point where the forward traveling wave has a phase delay ( phi ), the reflection coefficient transforms accordingly.

The calculation steps for this process are illustrated below:

Supposing our load impedance is ( z = 0.2 + 0.8i ), this is marked at the blue arrow’s head. The head represents ( Gamma ) under the mapping. If we want to determine how this impedance behaves as a termination load on a transmission line one-eighth of a wavelength long, the angles in the Smith Chart correspond to phase delays.

## General Properties of Möbius Transformations

The Smith Chart illustrates a specific type of Möbius Transformation, and understanding its properties is vital for its application.

Möbius transformations are defined by the following set of complex maps:

These transformations act on the extended complex plane:

The extended complex numbers can be visualized as a sphere through stereographic projection:

Stereographic projection creates a bijection between the complex plane and the punctured sphere, sealing the puncture by including an idealized point at infinity.

Möbius transformations are the only conformal bijections that map the Riemann sphere onto itself. The determinant condition ( ad - bc = 1 ) prevents cases where the numerator and denominator cancel to a constant.

Möbius transformations consistently map circular paths to other circular paths, which is crucial for constructing specific curves on the Smith Chart.

These transformations possess several key defining characteristics:

- They are complex analytic functions, differentiable except at a single pole, and analytic everywhere on the extended complex plane.
- As complex analytic functions, they are conformal, meaning small shapes are preserved in transformation.
- All Möbius transformations are conformal bijections mapping the Riemann sphere onto itself, distinct from the broader class of complex analytic functions.
- They map circles to circles, with straight lines considered as circles of infinite radius, facilitating easy graphical construction on the Smith Chart.

These properties are integral to the Smith Chart's utility.

## The Smith Chart Transformation

The Smith Chart visualizes two families of straight lines: those parallel to the real axis (constant imaginary parts) and those parallel to the imaginary axis (constant real parts).

An impedance Smith Chart represents these transformations from reflection coefficients to impedances:

As a Möbius transformation, the images of straight lines in the reflection coefficient plane become circles in the Smith Chart. The orthogonality of the original straight lines is preserved in their circular forms.

Calculating the reciprocal of an impedance on the Smith Chart is straightforward. Locate ( z ) based on its real and imaginary contours, then rotate the point 180º. For example, if the blue arrow head is at ( z = 0.2 + 0.8i ), its reciprocal will be at a point ( z = 0.294 - 1.176i ).

The inverse transformation entails rotating the entire chart 180º, leading us to operate on the ( z ) plane for impedances up to one, where contours represent the negatives of reflection coefficients.

If the reflection coefficient cannot be found on the plane (indicating a negative real part), this suggests the corresponding impedance exceeds one. In such cases, the process of multiplying the reflection coefficient by -1 is bypassed, yielding the reciprocal of the desired impedance.

Only impedances with positive real parts are physically meaningful, thus limiting use of the Smith Chart's right half unless dealing with active circuit elements.

## Other Fascinating Smith Chart Applications — Calculating Lorentz Transformations!

Interestingly, the Smith Chart can also be utilized for graphically calculating boosts and general Lorentz transformations in Special Relativity.

The Möbius Group of transformations, through function composition, is homomorphic to the group ( SL(2,mathbb{C}) ), the group of 2×2 complex matrices with a unity determinant.

The Smith Chart operations can realize transformations that correspond to all rotations of the Riemann sphere about any directional axis in three-dimensional space.

By adding real parts to angles—scaling as well as transforming by phase delays on the Smith Chart—one can represent any member of the complexified ( SU(2) ) group, effectively any member of the full Möbius Group double cover ( SL(2,mathbb{C}) ).

The Möbius group acts on the Riemann Sphere analogous to how Lorentz Transformations act on the Celestial Sphere. In theory, one could use a Smith Chart to predict how the night sky would appear while traveling close to the speed of light, although it would not account for red or blue shifts and changes in intensity.

## Some Historical Context

In English and German-speaking regions, the Smith Chart predominantly bears the name of Philip Hagar Smith. However, at Germany's DLR (Deutches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt), it is sometimes referred to as the Smith-Volpert chart.

During Smith's era, hand calculations were paramount, leading to independent yet similar developments by Philip Smith, Amiel R. Volpert, and T?saku Mizuhashi, each publishing their charts in the late 1930s.

A remarkable historical note is that deep intuitive understanding of Möbius Transformations and the Riemann Sphere was essential during that time for visualization in design. An illustrative figure from 1911, presented by George A. Campbell, demonstrates the advanced theoretical understanding of the Möbius Group, showcasing concepts that resonate with modern mathematical rigor.

## Other Complex Number Innovations

I must highlight the extraordinary Whythe-Fuller Complex Number slide rule. Like the Smith Chart, it employs contour maps of analytic complex functions.

Creating a slide rule requires the contours of the complex function ( f(z) = log(z) ). These contours are printed on two sliding bakelite cylinders, allowing for hand multiplication of complex numbers before the advent of computers and calculators.