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Washington, D.C. ---- WHAT does The Global Positioning System, the fabulous tool that lets its users establish their exact location anywhere on the earth’s surface, have in common with Sherlock Holmes? shows how even an advanced and baffling concept like GPS can be explained through the same logic that lets Sir Conan Doyle’s famous detective solve crime.

While engaged in the adventures of Holmes and the mysteries he encounters, the reader is also learning the valuable theories underlying the GPS, which Huang has slyly worked into his stories. After Holmes’ work is done, Huang explains in more detail the theories behind the detective’s fabulous deductions. Instead of bogging down in heavy technical jargon, Huang’s book about GPS is a refreshing mix of enjoyable fiction that teaches seemingly by accident and the author’s own careful explanations of the more intricate points.

After reading this book, it is apparent that the Global Positioning System is not so much a piece of “high-tech magic” but a system fully entrenched in the basic logic and simple physics that Holmes uses to find criminals. In other words, you don’t have to be a scientist to understand The Global Positioning System as Huang explains it, just someone who enjoys a good detective yarn. “We are pleased to offer Jerry Huang’s book through the 1stBooks Library,” says President Tim Jacobs. “It has a fresh, insightful story to tell, and we believe it’s well worth the reader’s attention.”

Readers' comments:

"Marvelous!" (General James A. Abrahamson USAF retired, former director of the Strategic Defense Initialtive SDI or 'Star War' program, NASA's associate administrator and Chairman of Oracle).

"Delightful treatment of the GPS, I enjoyed the booklet every much!" (Ms. Dava Sobel, author of the No. 1 bestseller 'Longitude')

"Wow! Finally, a GPS hi-tech literature everybody can read!" (Dr. Philip Young)


1. American Heritage Dictionary, the

2. Compton's Pictured Encyclopedia

3. Encyclopaedia Britannica

4. Global Positioning System: Theory and Applications, Edited by Bradford Parkinson, James Spilker Jr. and others, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Inc.

5. GPS: A Guide to the Next Utility, by Jeff Hurn for Trimble Navigation

6. GPS Builder kit by MITEL (Formerly GEC Plessey Semiconductor)

7. GPS NAVSTAR User's Overview, prepared by ARINC for JPO

8. GPS Simulator by Global Simulation Systems GSS (Formerly NORTEL).

9. GPS World monthly by Advanstar Communications

10. Guide to GPS Positioning; prepared under the leadership of David Wells, Canadian GPS Associates

11. International Air Safety, LLC. of Washington, DC

12. Longitude by Dava Sobel

13. Mechanical Universe, and Beyond; lectures by Professor David Goodstein of CalTech.

14. Understanding GPS, Principles and Applications; Edited by Elliott Kaplan, The MITRE Corporation.

15. World Geography by Alan Backler, Stuart Lazarus

16. GPS Overview by Dr. Peter H. Dana

Short Biography of the Editor-in-Chief

Jerry J. Huangwas Lieutenant a platoon leader in the infantry, then a development engineer in the Electronic Design Automation EDA industry. He is now a researcher in Global Positioning System (GPS) and designer of the web site for introducing GPS to the general public, science teachers and students all over the world. His prime research interest is in the navigation technologies and art of war. He was dumped from the Air Force Academy to a dirty, rotten infantry platoon for his deviated septum. He received a MSEE from University of South Carolina. Inspired by Norwegian’s quest for Viking’s navigation and the book “Longitude”, he plans to investigate how Cheng, Her (-Œ) managed his seven voyages from China to Africa and probably Australia few decades before Christopher Columbus. Realizing that GPS navigation covers the whole spectrum of fundamental sciences and mathematics, he is also trying to introduce the basics of GPS to the science education classrooms.


The content of this site is intended for an audience that includes everybody. If you are not interested in technical details, you can limit your reading to Chapter 1, a modern Sherlock Holmes detective story; Chapter 4, a pseudo science fiction narrative; and Chapter 5, a glimpse at the past and the future. A casual reading of these chapters will give you a good preliminary insight into the workings of the global positioning system, or GPS. Reading these parts of the book does not require any prior knowledge of GPS, science or technology.

This site is designed to introduce GPS as well as modern science and technology to students above the age of 13. There are also more detailed descriptions, however, for more serious readers with some understanding of physics, astronomy and technology; readers who are not interested in this deeper reading can skip over these sections and, if desired, come back to them later. For easy reference, terms that are presented in the text in italics are defined in detail in Appendix A, “The Lingo, Glossary and Acronyms.” Some terms are bold-faced to bring them to the special attention of the reader.

Many people these days are fascinated by the astonishing ability of GPS receivers to tell them exactly where they are at all times. Students, hikers, motorists, pilots, electronics hobbyists, business people and scientists alike are amazed. “What a marvelous thing!” they exclaim. “How does this gadget know where I am? Are those satellites watching me all the time?” Well, they are not divine beings, just electronic devices. Even if the gods were involved, they would have to be crazy to keep so busy telling millions of people walking or driving about the earth, or zipping through the skies above it, where each of them is every minute of the day. And the number of people using GPS is growing rapidly all the time, even if a lot of the users do not know how much hard work is being done by the little GPS receiver in the palm of their hand.

Because GPS is becoming so important in our everyday lives, we should all understand the basics of this modern wonder of technology. And the basics are really easy to comprehend. This is fortunate, because GPS is going to be with us from now on. This technology, originally designed for navigation, will have an infinite number of applications in the new millennium. It is just like the chronometer, which was invented in the eighteenth century for navigational purposes; it has been with us ever since, and has evolved into the clocks and watches that we all use today.

Other introductory books have been written to educate people within the GPS community. Those books are designed to help managers make decisions, for example, or to help newcomers get started in their jobs. During my own years in the GPS field, however, I have found that it is very difficult to educate GPS users and investors (who play an important role in GPS development) using the available materials. Now that GPS is becoming a kind of consumer electronics product that everybody can buy and use, the user base has grown to critical mass. This creates a need to acquaint everybody with this technology that can satisfy the very basic human desire to find the answer to the question, “Where am I?”

This guide is different from other technical books in that it is intended to guide the interest of young adults toward basic science and modern technology. Emphasis is also given to concepts, philosophy, methodology and history, for the author is convinced that these are just as important as knowledge of the technology itself.

GPS is unique, and uniquely interesting, partly because its theory stretches from the thinking of Pythagoras through Kepler, Newton, and Maxwell to Einstein—all the famous names of science—while its practice covers military applications, communications, computers, software, semiconductor, design and automation—all the foremost high-tech disciplines. Your GPS receiver embodies all of this, all by itself, and the operation of the total GPS system encompasses much, much more. And so, welcome to the exciting world of GPS!


For helping me to complete this book I owe a great debt of appreciation to Gen. James A. Abrahamson, former director of the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), the “Star Wars” program of the Reagan Administration, and associate administrator of NASA in charge of the Space Shuttle program; to Mr. Kenneth Johnstone, a dedicated mentor who, after retiring from Boeing, served like a missionary in educating our engineers; and to Dr. Wang Tang of ARINC, whose extensive experience in the aviation industry helped make him an invaluable asset to this project. Each of these three reviewed the manuscript sentence by sentence, phrase by phrase.

Prof. Peter H. Dana of the University of Texas at Austin made needed corrections to the first edition. Special thanks are also due to Dr. Hsing-Tung Chou, who introduced GPS to me during his research at Stanford University under the direction of Dr. Bradford Parkinson.

The writing of this book was possible only because of the R&D environment and the helpful personnel at the Center for Aviation and Space Technology (CAST), Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI). I am especially indebted to Dr. Richard Lin and Dr. Jacob Hsiung, whose leadership and insights allowed me great latitude for contemplation and research. Also, reviews by Dr. Yeou-Jyh Tsai greatly improved earlier editions.

Your comments on this work will be greatly helpful and much appreciated, since reader input allows for constant change and improvement. Please visit our web site at for a World Wide Web GPS forum and resource hyperlinks. Please e-mail me your comments and suggestions through . Thank you.

Please direct your comments, suggestions to:


Thank you!

Jerry Huang October 10, 1999

Copyright 1997, 1999. All rights reserved.
More informative in the Book! This book is available in , searchable by the keyword 'gps' or ISBN 9579738971.