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- Algebraic and Combinatorial Algorithms for Translinear Network Synthesis (2005)
- This thesis contains the mathematical treatment of a special class of analog microelectronic circuits called translinear circuits. The goal is to provide foundations of a new coherent synthesis approach for this class of circuits. The mathematical methods of the suggested synthesis approach come from graph theory, combinatorics, and from algebraic geometry, in particular symbolic methods from computer algebra. Translinear circuits form a very special class of analog circuits, because they rely on nonlinear device models, but still allow a very structured approach to network analysis and synthesis. Thus, translinear circuits play the role of a bridge between the "unknown space" of nonlinear circuit theory and the very well exploited domain of linear circuit theory. The nonlinear equations describing the behavior of translinear circuits possess a strong algebraic structure that is nonetheless flexible enough for a wide range of nonlinear functionality. Furthermore, translinear circuits offer several technical advantages like high functional density, low supply voltage and insensitivity to temperature. This unique profile is the reason that several authors consider translinear networks as the key to systematic synthesis methods for nonlinear circuits. The thesis proposes the usage of a computer-generated catalog of translinear network topologies as a synthesis tool. The idea to compile such a catalog has grown from the observation that on the one hand, the topology of a translinear network must satisfy strong constraints which severely limit the number of "admissible" topologies, in particular for networks with few transistors, and on the other hand, the topology of a translinear network already fixes its essential behavior, at least for static networks, because the so-called translinear principle requires the continuous parameters of all transistors to be the same. Even though the admissible topologies are heavily restricted, it is a highly nontrivial task to compile such a catalog. Combinatorial techniques have been adapted to undertake this task. In a catalog of translinear network topologies, prototype network equations can be stored along with each topology. When a circuit with a specified behavior is to be designed, one can search the catalog for a network whose equations can be matched with the desired behavior. In this context, two algebraic problems arise: To set up a meaningful equation for a network in the catalog, an elimination of variables must be performed, and to test whether a prototype equation from the catalog and a specified equation of desired behavior can be "matched", a complex system of polynomial equations must be solved, where the solutions are restricted to a finite set of integers. Sophisticated algorithms from computer algebra are applied in both cases to perform the symbolic computations. All mentioned algorithms have been implemented using C++, Singular, and Mathematica, and are successfully applied to actual design problems of humidity sensor circuitry at Analog Microelectronics GmbH, Mainz. As result of the research conducted, an exhaustive catalog of all static formal translinear networks with at most eight transistors is available. The application for the humidity sensor system proves the applicability of the developed synthesis approach. The details and implementations of the algorithms are worked out only for static networks, but can easily be adopted for dynamic networks as well. While the implementation of the combinatorial algorithms is stand-alone software written "from scratch" in C++, the implementation of the algebraic algorithms, namely the symbolic treatment of the network equations and the match finding, heavily rely on the sophisticated Gröbner basis engine of Singular and thus on more than a decade of experience contained in a special-purpose computer algebra system. It should be pointed out that the thesis contains the new observation that the translinear loop equations of a translinear network are precisely represented by the toric ideal of the network's translinear digraph. Altogether, this thesis confirms and strengthenes the key role of translinear circuits as systematically designable nonlinear circuits.