Swerling Manasse & Smith, Inc.
Peter Swerling (4 March 1929 – 25 August 2000) was one of the most influential radar theoreticians in the second half of the 20th century. He is best known for the class of statistically "fluctuating target" scattering models he developed at the RAND Corporation in the early 1950s to characterize the performance of pulsed radar systems, referred to as Swerling Targets I, II, III, and IV in the literature of radar. Swerling also contributed to the optimal estimation of orbits of satellites and trajectories of missiles, anticipating the development of the Kalman filter. He also founded two companies, one of which continues his engineering work today. While still in graduate school, Swerling worked full-time for Douglas Aircraft Company as a staff member of the newly formed Project RAND. He wrote his landmark report, "Probability of Detection for Fluctuating Targets," for the RAND Corporation (now independent from Douglas Aircraft) in 1954. The paper introduced a set of statistically "fluctuating target" scattering models to characterize the detection performance of pulsed radar systems. Building on the work of Jess Marcum (who statistically subtracted noise from images of steady targets), Swerling accounted for statistical fluctuations of the target itself. The models became known as Swerling Target Models Cases I, II, III, and IV in radar literature. In related work, Swerling made significant contributions to the optimal estimation of orbits of satellites and trajectories of missiles. Working in the fields of least-squares estimation and signal processing, Swerling published papers in 1958 and 1959 on "stagewise" smoothing, the first efforts to exploit the computational advantages of applying recursion to least-squares problems. His work, particularly "First-Order Error Propagation in a Stagewise Smoothing Procedure for Satellite Observations," anticipated that of Rudolf E. Kálmán, whose linear quadratic estimation technique became known as the Kalman filter. Swerling went on to participate in special studies and task forces for the Department of Defense in areas such as the Aegis Combat System and vulnerabilities of AWACS and Patriot missile systems to electronic countermeasures; he developed more sophisticated radar models for application to targets using stealth technology. Peter Swerling was a department manager for Conductron Corporation, in Inglewood, California from 1961 to 1964. In 1966, he founded Technology Service Corporation in Santa Monica, California. With Swerling as president for 16 years, the company grew to 200 employees, had a successful IPO in 1983, and was acquired by Westinghouse Electric Corporation in 1985. Meanwhile, in 1983, Swerling co-founded Swerling Manasse & Smith, Inc., in Canoga Park, California; he served as its president and CEO for 12 years from 1986 until his retirement in 1998. Beginning in 1965, for several years Swerling was an adjunct professor of electrical engineering at the University of Southern California; he taught advanced seminars in communication theory and served on doctoral committees. He was a founder and long-term trustee of Crossroads School, a K-12 private school prominent in the Los Angeles area.