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Special Issue to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Allan Variance (1966-2016)

Special Issue to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Allan Variance (1966-2016)

(Submission deadline: May 31, 2015)

When atomic clocks became widely used in the 1950s, it was quickly realized that the standard statistical techniques were not appropriate to model their behavior. Although the frequency of a device could be characterized as a random variable in some situations, this was not universally true for all observation times. In addition, the time of a clock, which was the integral of the frequency, and therefore was not a simple random variable, could not be treated by the standard statistical techniques of the period. David Allan and Jim Barnes, who were at the National Bureau of Standards (NBS at the time, later renamed NIST) started a research effort to model the performance of the time and frequency variations of atomic clocks, and the result was the Allan Variance, which is now universally used for this purpose. The 50th anniversary of this work will occur in 2016, and we think it is particular appropriate to recognize the very great impact that the Allan Variance (and related estimators such as the Modified Allan Variance, the Total variance, and others) has had on the field of time and frequency metrology, and also in other related applications.

List of expected and solicited content

  • The derivation of the original two sample variance in the 1960s
  • Modifications and improvements to the original two sample variance
  • Applications of the variance to characterizing clocks and oscillators
  • Comparing analyses in the Time and Fourier Frequency Domains
  • Application to time scales
  • Application to navigation systems
  • The future of statistical tools in time and frequency metrology
  • The usefulness of the Allan variance in other fields

Many thanks for your consideration and looking forward to receiving your papers.

The guest editors will be

Judah Levine, JILA Boulder CO, E-mail:

Patrizia Tavella, INRIM, Italy, E-mail:

Giorgio Santarelli, France, E-mail: