Being a computer scientist in a research field I am often tasked with working alongside professionals outside of the software domain (think math people, electrical engineer etc), and then translating their theories and ideas into real-world implementations. I often find it difficult when they present a theoretical problem which appears to be somewhat disconnected from reality. I am not saying that the theory is bogus, only that it is difficult to translate into real-world situations.
For example, recently I have been working with software defined radios. We are exploring many different areas, but often the math specialists in my group would present a problem which is heavily grounded in theory (signal processing, physics, whatever). I often struggle at times where it is hard to draw direct parallels between the theory and the real-world implementation that I need to develop. Say we are working on an energy detector, the theory person in my group would say "you need to measure the noise variance with no signal present." This leads me to think "how the hell do I isolate noise from a signal in reality?" There are many examples, but I hope you see where I am going.
So, my question is how does one deal with implementation of theoretical concepts when the theory seems detached from reality? Or at least when the connections are not so clear. Or perhaps, the person with the 'theory' may be ignorant of real restrictions?
Note: I found this to be a hard question to ask - hopefully you are following me. If you have suggestions on how I could improve it, by all means let me know!
Thanks for looking!
EDIT: To be a bit more clear, I understand in situations like this that I must learn that specific domain myself to an extent (i.e. signal processing), but I am more concerned with when those theoretical concepts do not appear to be as grounded in practice as one would like.