The internet is becoming more and more wireless. We see this in rural, developing countries where the cost of wiring infrastructure is too high, as well as in urban environments where wireless cameras and other devices are streaming information more than ever before. Every time we use an iPhone or laptop to wirelessly access the Internet, we are part of this trend.
Sean Warnick and Daniel Zappala, professors in the Department of Computer Science, are making these wireless networks work better. Funded by an $80,000 grant from the United States Air Force (USAF), they have combined the efforts of their respective research groups to make wireless networks more efficient and fair.
Several important algorithms have been designed for the wired Internet to decide which path data takes as it travels through the network and to decide how fast each application should send. These algorithms don’t tend to work as well for wireless networks – the path between two users might not be the fastest, for example. In some cases, two users could be sharing a wireless network, but one of them could be allocated all of the resources while another is left without anything.
Warnick and Zappala are developing new algorithms that will provide better performance and fairness for wireless networks. These algorithms are based on mathematical models of the network, so that their performance can be provably guaranteed. Moreover, the team is deploying these algorithms on an actual wireless mesh network in the Talmage building and comparing real performance with the mathematical guarantees.
Zappala leads the Internet Research Lab, which specializes in building software that both extends the reach of the Internet and improves its performance. Warnick leads the Information and Decision Algorithms Laboratories, or IDeA Labs, an interdisciplinary team of students exploring complex systems in Business, the Life Sciences, Government, and Engineering including, of course, the Internet.
-- Natalie Wilson, College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences
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