[Nrg-l] NRG Presentation: April/6/2009

Jorge Londono jmlon at cs.bu.edu
Fri Apr 3 13:54:43 EDT 2009

SPEAKER: Calvin Newport (MIT)

TITLE: Distributed Computing in the Age of Open Airwaves


As we enter an era of ubiquitous computing, theoreticians are faced
with a new scenario for distributed computation: large numbers of
small, heterogeneous, wireless devices competing to use the same
unlicensed bands of the radio spectrum. The resulting conflicts ensure
that unpredictable (sometimes even adversarial) interference is
endemic throughout these bands.  Traditional radio network models --
which typically assume a single predictable communication frequency
used only by devices running the same algorithm -- do not adequately
capture this reality. This begs the question: can theoreticians
effectively model and prove useful bounds in this chaotic setting?

In this talk, I will propose the answer is "yes." Specifically, I will
describe recent research in which my collaborators and I model an
unlicensed band by incarnating the diversity of different interference
behavior in an abstract adversary. This allows us to prove strong
bounds that remain applicable to real world disrupted radio channels.
As a case study, I will discuss the problem of ad hoc leader election,
which requires the safe election of a single leader among an unknown
number of devices, activated at unknown times on a radio band
suffering from unpredictable interference. I will conclude by
outlining some of the useful open problems motivated by this research


Time & Place:
4:00pm - Grad Lounge

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