April 4, 2005
UCSC to lead ambitious multidisciplinary
research project on wireless communication networks
UCSC researchers are leading a major collaborative effort to
develop the technology for complex wireless communication networks
that can be set up in rapidly changing environments such as
battlefields and emergency situations.
J. J. Garcia-Luna-Aceves, Baskin
Professor of Computer Engineering, is leading a $5.2-million
project to develop wireless networking technology.
Photo: Tim Stephens
Faculty in UCSC's Baskin School of Engineering will head a
multidisciplinary team of scientists at seven major universities
working on the Dynamic Ad-hoc Wireless Networks (DAWN) project.
The project also includes researchers at UC Berkeley, UCLA,
Stanford University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT),
the University of Maryland, and the University of Illinois at
It is funded by a five-year grant from the U.S. Department
of Defense that will provide an average of $1 million per year
spread among the seven institutions.
J. J. Garcia-Luna-Aceves, Jack Baskin Professor of Computer
Engineering at UCSC and the principal investigator on the DAWN
project, said the methods and protocols developed for this project
will have widespread applications. The research is of particular
interest to the U.S. Army to enable troops to deploy mobile
communications networks on the battlefield. But such networks
could also be used by emergency personnel in the aftermath of
an earthquake or other disaster in which pre-existing communications
infrastructure has been knocked out.
In addition, mobile and adaptable wireless networking may find
more commonplace applications in the increasingly wireless world
of modern communications.
"Even today, with the widespread use of wireless technology,
little is understood about how wireless networks can scale up
and become part of the Internet at large. We really need to
develop a science of wireless networking," Garcia-Luna-Aceves
The DAWN project aims to establish the fundamental principles,
tools, and methodologies needed to design reliable and efficient
wireless networks. So far, the methods that have been applied
in wireless networks have been derived from the wired world,
Garcia-Luna-Aceves said. But ad-hoc wireless networks are complex
systems with interactions and dynamics that do not occur in
An ad-hoc wireless network is a self-organizing system of wireless
devices in which individual nodes may move randomly and organize
themselves into an unpredictable and rapidly changing network.
The impact of a wireless transmission is not confined to a stable
set of point-to-point links, as in a wired network, but reaches
any receiver within its range. Interference at a receiver is
a complex function of the characteristics of the wireless devices
and the terrain or physical environment in which they are operating.
"We need a mathematical framework that will allow us to
model the more complex world of the wireless environment. In
the past, we have made many assumptions just to make the modeling
tractable, but now we will be pushing the envelope," Garcia-Luna-Aceves
Garcia-Luna-Aceves has been working in the area of wireless
networking for many years and has led several successful projects
to develop small-scale mobile wireless networks. The DAWN project
is an interdisciplinary effort to advance this research to a
larger scale. By developing an understanding of how large-scale
wireless networks operate, the project will lay the foundation
for greater accessibility to the Internet, Garcia-Luna-Aceves
"For the Internet to become more pervasive, people need
to have access wherever they are. Wireless networking will enable
the Internet to be even more useful than it is today,"
The DAWN team includes some of the top researchers in the field
of networking, and Garcia-Luna-Aceves noted that UCSC's leadership
of the project is indicative of the campus's stature in the
"We are leading the best universities in the field on
this project, and I think that's a recognition that UCSC is
doing first-rate research in networking," Garcia-Luna-Aceves
In addition to Garcia-Luna-Aceves, the UCSC faculty involved
in the project include Katia Obraczka, associate professor of
computer engineering, and Hamid Sadjadpour, assistant professor
of electrical engineering. Other major contributors include
Tony Ephremides at the University of Maryland, Andrea Goldsmith
at Stanford, Jennifer Hou and Nitin Vaidya at UIUC, Mario Gerla
and Rajive Bagrodia at UCLA, Muriel Medard at MIT, and Pravin
Varaiya at UC Berkeley.
The DAWN grant is one of 33 research grants awarded this year
under the Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI)
program. The grant will provide support for 19 graduate students,
including at least four at UCSC. Industry collaborations will
provide additional support for students through summer internships.
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