School of Information Sciences

Telecommunications Seminar Series (Past Lectures)


Friday, September 9

1:00 - 2:00 p.m.
IS Building, Room 403

Jim Allen, Senior Director of Global Solutions Architects, Lightbend

Real Life in Silicon Valley

Abstract: As aspiring computer professionals, what are the hottest areas of tech right now, and what is coming in the near future? What are salaries and compensation plans like, and how do they affect you? What kind of developer do you want to be, whether it's front end web development, back end data storage, or real-time analytics? This talk will cover the essentials of application development and life for programmers as of today, and where the future is headed.

Bio: Jamie Allen is the Senior Director of Global Solutions Architects for Lightbend, responsible for the enablement of customers strategically adopting the Lightbend Reactive Platform. He is the author of Effective Akka (O’Reilly), and the co-author of the upcoming Reactive Design Patterns (Manning). Jamie is a computer languages enthusiast who enjoys writing performant code that most efficiently leverages the resources at hand, and is a Pitt SIS graduate from 1993.


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

6:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
IS Building, 3rd Floor Theatre

Jim Young, Senior Vice President & Chief Operating Officer, Crown Castle

Evolving Wireless infrastructure Architecture in the United States

Abstract: Demand for wireless broadband data continues to increase at rates that challenge wireless carriers ability to develop networks to support that demand. Traditional tower based networks, when combined with additional spectrum assets can help relieve network congestion, but are insufficient to maintain the quality of service customers expect. Network architectures utilizing fiber based small cell components are bridging the capacity gap. Centralized Radio Access Node (CRAN), WiFi, Carrier Aggregation and video compression technologies will all be used to meet data demand needs. Discussion will provide a broad survey of these solutions as well as insight into current deployments in the U.S.

Bio: Jim Young was appointed Chief Operating Officer of Crown Castle in February 2009. Prior to this appointment, he served as President, US Tower Operations from October 2005. He is responsible for the management of all operational groups including the four Areas, Property Management, Operations, Service Delivery, Performance Improvement, Information Technology, and National Site Development. With more than 21 years of experience in the telecom industry, Mr. Young has served in several key capacities for various organizations. Prior to joining Crown Castle, he served as the Northeast Region Vice President of Network Operations for Sprint/Nextel, before that spending several years with GTE in a variety of leadership positions across multiple disciplines.


Friday, February 26, 2016

1:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.
IS Building, Room 403

David Tipper, Professor, University of Pittsburgh

A New Approach to Providing Quality of Resilience Classes

Abstract: There is an increasing need for supporting services with high resilience requirements over future communica



Friday, November 20, 2015

12:30 p.m., Meet & Greet
1:00 p.m., Talk
IS Building, Room 403

Timothy X. Brown, Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University

A Harmful Interference Model for Secondary Spectrum Access

Abstract:Recent FCC proceedings have considered the notion of unlicensed device operation in licensed bands. Licensed users are concerned about harmful interference while unlicensed device manufacturers and operators are concerned that harmful interference is an imprecise design concept. This paper addresses two elements to these concerns. 
First, it develops an explicit model of harmful interference to be included in unlicensed device rules. Such a model provides explicit bounded protection to the licensed user while providing assurances and performance goals to the unlicensed device manufacturers. Second, it presents an analytic model for assessing harmful interference that not only provides quantitative analysis, but, also provides insight into how factors such as directional antennas, power control, and licensed channel avoidance strategies affect the aggregate interference. Further, it suggests that complex factors such as unlicensed device modulation schemes can be captured in a simple measurement. 

Bio: Timothy X. Brown received his BS in physics from Pennsylvania State University and his PhD in electrical engineering from California Institute of Technology. He has worked at both the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Bell Communications Research. Since 1995, he has been at the University of Colorado at Boulder, most recently as Professor in Electrical, Computer, and Energy Engineering and Director of the Interdisciplinary Telecommunications Program. He is currently a Distinguished Service Professor at Carnegie Mellon University in EPP, ECE, and the graduate programs in Kigali, Rwanda. His research interests include wireless communication systems, network security, and machine learning. His recent research funding includes NSF, DOE, and industry. Projects include the role of mobility in network control of unmanned aircraft, denial of service vulnerabilities in wireless protocols, spectrum policy frameworks for cognitive radios, and stochastic geometry applied to wireless networks. He is a recipient of the NSF CAREER Award, and the GWEC Wireless Educator of the Year Award.


Thursday, November 12, 2015

6:30 p.m., Meet & Greet
7:00 p.m., Talk
IS Building, Room 403

Carlos E. Caicedo, PhD, Associate Professor, Syracuse University School of Information Studies

Standards and Trends for future RF Spectrum Sharing Environments

This event is being co-sponsored by the IEEE Communications Society.

Abstract: Wireless communication services and associated applications rely on the use of radio frequency (RF) spectrum resources for their operation. Due to the growth in the use of these services, spectrum management agencies and wireless service providers are determining ways to establish flexible spectrum assignment mechanisms as a means to respond in the near future to the demand for spectrum resources. Many of these mechanisms focus on moving away from rigid spectrum management policies and embracing dynamic spectrum access and spectrum sharing.

RF spectrum sharing environments will require an effective means of communicating the characteristics and limits of spectrum use of an RF transmitter, receiver, system or collection of systems in order to handle interference and dynamic spectrum assignments. Spectrum consumption models (SCMs) attempt to capture spectral, spatial, and temporal characteristics, and boundaries of the consumption of spectrum by any specific transmitter or receiver device or RF system. The information contained in the models enables better RF spectrum management practices and allows for the identification of spectrum reuse opportunities.

This talk presents and discusses current standardization and research efforts to develop policy description languages and spectrum consumption models (SCM) that can be used to support and enhance the provision of services in future wireless communication environments. It highlights the work of several IEEE 1900.X standardization groups and discusses its impact on the implementation of Spectrum Access Systems (SAS) and regulatory policy for wireless services.

Bio: Carlos E. Caicedo Bastidas is an associate professor at the School of Information Studies at Syracuse University and director of the Center for Convergence and Emerging Network Technologies (CCENT). He has a PhD in Information Science from the University of Pittsburgh and holds MSc degrees in Electrical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin and from the Universidad de los Andes, Colombia. He has been a visiting professor at the University of Arizona, a teaching fellow at the University of Pittsburgh, as well as an instructor professor at the Universidad de los Andes in Colombia.

Caicedo is a member of ACM and IEEE (Communications, Computer and Education societies). He is also a member of the IEEE Standards Association and of the IEEE Dynamic Spectrum Access and Networks Standardization Committee’s (DySPAN-SC) 1900.5 working group on Policy Language and Policy Architectures for Managing Cognitive Radio for Dynamic Spectrum Access Applications. His research interests are in the areas of dynamic spectrum access, new wireless markets and technologies, information security, and agent-based modeling.


Friday, October 30, 2015

11:30 a.m., Talk
IS Building, Room 403

Leandros Tassiulas, Electrical Engineering & Institute for Network Science, Yale University

Traffic Offloading and User Provided Wireless Networks: Theory and Novel Realizations

Abstract: The proliferation of mobile internet access poses new challenges to wireless service providers as the capacity growth of their networks cannot cope with the rate of increase of mobile wireless traffic. Alternate means are considered to deal with the excessive traffic demand, that exploit the proliferation of wireless networks in unlicensed parts of the spectrum as well as of handheld devices with multiple radio interfaces.

Traffic off-loading from the cellular network to a Wi-Fi access point is possible for mobile users with wireless interfaces for both networks. We will present schemes that motivate operators, access point owners and users to cooperate in order to maximize use of available capacity in the different networks; the schemes are based on double auction mechanisms. In an alternate approach, a mobile user may gain internet access when another user with cellular internet connection is willing to relay its traffic received through a direct link between the users. We will present incentives mechanisms that facilitate the creation of such User Provided Networks in a way that all participants gain in terms of access capacity as well as energy consumption.

Finally will present a design and implementation of a novel cloud-controlled UPN that employs software defined networking support on mobile terminals, to dynamically apply data forwarding policies with adaptive flow-control.

Bio: Leandros Tassiulas is the John C. Malone Professor of Electrical Engineering at Yale University. His research interests are in the field of computer and communication networks with emphasis on fundamental mathematical models and algorithms of complex networks, architectures and protocols of wireless systems, sensor networks, novel internet architectures and experimental platforms for network research. His most notable contributions include the max-weight scheduling algorithm and the back-pressure network control policy, opportunistic scheduling in wireless, the maximum lifetime approach for wireless network energy management, and the consideration of joint access control and antenna transmission management in multiple antenna wireless systems. Tassiulas has been a Fellow of IEEE (2007) while his research has been recognized by several awards including the inaugural INFOCOM 2007 Achievement Award “for fundamental contributions to resource allocation in communication networks,” the INFOCOM 1994 best paper award, a National Science Foundation (NSF) Research Initiation Award (1992), an NSF CAREER Award (1995), an Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award (1997) and a Bodossaki Foundation award (1999). He holds a PhD in Electrical Engineering from the University of Maryland, College Park (1991). He has held faculty positions at Polytechnic University, New York, University of Maryland, College Park, and University of Thessaly, Greece.


Friday, October 2, 2015

1:00 p.m., Talk
IS Building, Room 403

David Tipper, Professor, University of Pittsburgh School of Information Sciences

What time is it? Synchronization techniques and issues in packet networks

Abstract: Tight synchronization timing is expected to play a crucial role for the realization of high value applications such as smart transportation and smart grid. In this paper, we first overview the main synchronization protocols and improvement mechanisms recently proposed, which are based on configuration, software, and specific hardware improvements. Further, we next discuss the main network delay components, since delay asymmetry is one the most significant challenges for synchronization protocols over packet-switched networks. We next propose probing-based mechanisms in order to estimate asymmetry and evaluate the synchronization performance under several network conditions. Lastly we discuss open issues such as security.

Bio:  David Tipper is the Director of the Graduate Telecommunications & Networking Program and is a Professor at the School of Information Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA. He is a graduate of the University of Arizona (Ph.D. EE, MS SIE) and Virginia Tech (BS EE).

His research interests include survivable networks, performance analysis techniques, wireless/wired network design, information assurance, network design and traffic restoration; simulation and queuing theory with emphasis on transient/non-stationary behavior, virtual network design, and network control algorithms.

Professor Tipper’s research has been supported by grants from various government and corporate sources such as NSF, DARPA, NIST, IBM, ARO, and AT&T.


Friday, April 10, 2015

Noon, Meet & Greet (pizza provided)
12:30 p.m., Talk
IS Building, Room 403

Abby Knowles, Executive Director at Verizon Wireless Network (OH/PA/WV)

Innovation & the Wireless Explosion

Abstract: Details forthcoming.

Bio: Abby Knowles is the Executive Director responsible for the Verizon Wireless Network in OH, PA, and WV, leading the engineering, operations, and performance teams in this region. She has almost 19 years of experience in the communications technology industry in Verizon in areas including wireline engineering, technology program management, video engineering, wireless operation center management, and network capital management. Abby graduated from Morgan State University with a degree in Electrical Engineering and has a Master’s in Information and Telecom Systems for business from Johns Hopkins, as well as a Master’s Certificate in Project Management from George Washington University. She is married with 2 daughters, and loves to be involved in her community, her children's activities, sports, reading, and traveling.


Friday, March 20, 2015

2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.
IS Building, Room 403

David Tipper, Associate Professor, University of Pittsburgh School of Information Sciences

On Smart Grid Communications Reliability

Abstract: In this talk, we will discuss the communications reliability requirements posed by the smart power grid with a focus on communications in support of wide area situational awareness.

Implementation of wide area situational awareness relies on both transmission substation networks and wide area optical networks. We study the reliability of a sample communications network of the California Power Grid and find that its reliability falls short of proposed requirements.

To overcome this issue, we consider the problem of designing a network to meet the reliability requirements while minimizing the network cost. Therefore, we propose two greedy iterative heuristics and a heuristic integer linear programming (H-ILP) model using minimum cut-sets for network reliability optimization.

The greedy iterative algorithms outperform the H-ILP approach in terms of cost, but require a larger amount of computing resources. Both proposed models are in fact complementary and thus provide a framework to optimize the reliability of smart grid communications networks.

Bio: David Tipper is the Director of the Graduate Telecommunications and Networking Program and is an Associate Professor at the School of Information Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA. He is a graduate of the University of Arizona (Ph.D. EE, MS SIE) and Virginia Tech (BS EE).

His research interests include survivable networks, performance analysis techniques, wireless/wired network design, information assurance, network design and traffic restoration; simulation and queuing theory with emphasis on transient/non-stationary behavior, virtual network design, and network control algorithms. 

Professor Tipper’s research has been supported by grants from various government and corporate sources such as NSF, DARPA, NIST, IBM, ARO, and AT&T. 


Friday, February 20, 2015

1:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.
IS Building, Room 403

Dr. Kostantinos Pelechrinis, Assistant Professor, University of Pittsburgh's School of Information Sciences

Analysis and Models of Promotions through Location-based Social Networks

Abstract: The proliferation of mobile handheld devices in combination with the technological advancements in mobile computing has led to a number of innovative services that make use of the location information available on such devices. Traditional yellow pages websites have now moved to mobile platforms, giving the opportunity to local businesses and potential, near-by, customers to connect. These platforms can offer an affordable advertisement channel to local businesses.

One of the mechanisms offered by location-based social networks (LBSNs) allows businesses to provide special offers to their customers that connect through the platform. We collected a large time-series dataset from approximately 14 million venues on Foursquare and analyzed the performance of such campaigns using randomization techniques and (non-parametric) hypothesis testing with statistical bootstrapping.

Our main finding indicates that this type of promotion is not as effective as anecdotal success stories might suggest. Finally, we designed classifiers by extracting three different types of features that are able to provide an educated decision on whether a special offer campaign for a local business will succeed or fail in both the short and long term.

Bio: Dr. Pelechrinis is an Assistant Professor at the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Information Sciences.

His research interests include network science, social computing, and in particular, location based social networks (LBSNs) and urban informatics. He is involved in: (a) understanding the social, spatial, temporal, and network dynamics of the behavior of people as captured through LBSNs, (b) developing models and algorithms for intelligent urban services, (c) studying the effect of LBSNs on businesses and (d) securing the new business model paradigm introduced by these systems.  He is extremely interested in the design and implementation of practical systems, based on analytical frameworks.

His past work has involved research in computer networking, wireless, and mobile networks, with a focus on protocol design, real world experimentation, and performance analysis for wireless network systems.


Friday, January 9, 2015

1:00 p.m.
IS Building, Room 403 

Dan Flynn, Pres/CEO Accipiter Systems, Matt Heston, Principal Engineer, Accipiter Systems

Next Generation Infrastructure for Real-time Applications

Abstract: Video content streaming sources such as CinemaNow Crackle, YouTube, Netflix, VUDU, Hulu, Metacafe capture attention as they vie to be the video streaming source of choice.  Microsoft Bing Image Match returns pictures matching the user's uploaded picture.  Big data processing, analysis, mining, machine learning and visualization applications facilitate interactive sessions with users.  Derived values feature extraction enable human interpretation of streaming video in real-time. Oil exploration and weather prediction rely on high-performance compute.  All of these applications share a common need for low latency interconnects to deliver their real-time performance.

This talk examines today's interconnects and networking technologies, and the motivations to advance a next generation alternative interconnect that eliminates network interface card latency while delivering the highest data rates to end systems in industry.  This next generation interconnect enables the disaggregation of the server function.  Unlike technologies such as Ethernet that span the LAN, this technology spans the high performance compute cluster.   The architecture, benefits and features of the interconnect are described.  

Bios: Dan Flynn is Pres/CEO of Accipiter Systems, a computer network equipment manufacturer located in Wexford, PA.  Since incorporating in 2002, Accipiter has won contracts with DARPA, the Army, AF, Navsea, Navair and Intelligence Community.  These contracts have focused on the development of next generation networking solutions for the LAN. Previously,  Dan was a Director of Engineering at FORE Systems where he led a group responsible for developing ATM and Ethernet product for the enterprise including network interface cards, firewalls, switch control processors, switches and software.  Prior to FORE Systems, Dan was a Senior Engineer at Loral involved in building supercomputers for processing satellite imagery, and for platforms including aircraft, submarines and surface ships. He has earned an M.S.E.E. from the University of Akron and a B.S.E.E. from Cleveland State University.

Matt Heston is a Principal Optical/Hardware Engineer at Accipiter Systems, a computer network equipment manufacturer located in Wexford, PA.  Matt earned a M.S.E.E. & B.S.E.E. from Case Western Reserve University in 1996 and has over 15 years of experience in the field of networking, with expertise fiber optics communications, SONET/SDH, Ethernet, high-speed PCB design, and system architecture. Matt has held several roles at Cisco Systems prior to Accipiter Systems. As a Hardware Technical Lead Engineer at Cisco Systems, he had technical/engineering responsibility for all optical transceiver modules sold for the Catalyst 2k and 3k Ethernet switch product lines ($6B annual Ethernet switch sales). He architected and designed uplink interfaces including the 4x 10Gb/s SFP+ optical for the recent Catalyst 3850 product. As a Optical/Hardware Development Engineer at Cisco Systems, he lead the 2.5Gb/s and 10Gb/s optical interfaces for the ONS15600 SONET STS-1 cross-connect and designed the OC-3, OC-12, GbE, and OC-48 multi-rate line interface card. As an Optical/Hardware Development Engineer at Monterey Networks (acquired by Cisco Systems in 1999), he architected and designed a 256 port and 1024 port O-E-O STS-48 switch matrix and designed the OC-192 interface card with discrete optical components. Matt is listed as inventor on 12 granted patents and as well as other patent applications in various technology fields, including fiber optics, mechanical design, and networking systems.



Friday, November 7, 2014

3:00 p.m.
IS Building, Room 404

Dr. Balaji Palanisamy, Assistant Professor, University of Pittsburgh School of Information Sciences

Cost-effective and Locality-aware MapReduce Clouds: Architecture and Techniques

Abstract: Cloud computing and its pay-as-you-go cost structure have enabled infrastructure providers, platform providers and application service providers to offer computing services on demand and pay-per-use just like how we use utility today. This growing trend in cloud computing, combined with the demands for Big Data and Big Data analytics,  is driving the rapid evolution of datacenter technologies towards more cost-effective, consumer-driven and technology agnostic solutions. Cost effective resource optimization techniques that are highly effective and yet greatly agile are critical for both cloud providers and cloud consumers.
In this talk, I will present techniques to address the challenges of locality-aware and cost-effective resource management and job scheduling for Hadoop-based Big Data processing in the Cloud.  First, I will present Cura, a utility-driven MapReduce Cloud resource planning and management system.  While existing MapReduce cloud services require users to select a number of complex cluster and job parameters and use those potentially sub-optimal per-job configurations, the Cura resource management achieves global resource optimization in the cloud by minimizing cost and maximizing resource utilization. Next, we will discuss the key features of Purlieus, a self-configurable locality-based data and virtual machine management framework that enables MapReduce jobs to access their data either locally or from close-by nodes in a datacenter including all input, output and intermediate data achieving significant improvements in job response time and throughput. In the third part of the talk, I will discuss VNCache, an efficient solution for MapReduce analysis of cloud-archived data. VNcache dynamically integrates cloud-archived data into a virtual namespace at the enterprise Hadoop cluster and through a seamless data streaming and prefetching model, it enables Hadoop jobs to begin execution as soon as they are launched without requiring any apriori downloading. Towards the end, I will discuss some challenging open problems in this field and some directions for future work.

Bio: Balaji Palanisamy is an Assistant Professor in the School of Information Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh. He obtained his PhD in Computer Science from Georgia Institute of Technology in 2013 and his research interests include data and system privacy and performance optimization techniques in Distributed Systems and Cloud Computing.


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

6:30 p.m., Meet the Speaker with pizza
7:00 p.m., Talk
IS Building, Room 501

Joe Trost, Director of Software Verification Test (SVT) at Tollgrade Communications, Inc.

SmartGrid– An Introduction to Medium Voltage Utility Power Line Sensors

Abstract: Smart Grid reliability starts with better visibility into the backbone of the grid – the distribution network. With distribution monitoring systems, there is better detection of faults with real- time information (e.g. type of fault, cause and location); classify different types of line disturbances; and continuously monitor load and power quality across all three phases of a medium voltage distribution network. Monitoring is made possible with Medium Voltage (MV) Sensors with these features: inductively powered with flexible communications offered through cellular or Wi-Fi with operations down to 3 amps. Key sensor measurements include: load current, fault current, electric field strength, power factor, phase angle, sags, surges, wire temperature and harmonics. This talk will include a demonstration of sensors from Tollgrade. We will power them up and simulate power events on the power line so we can watch the sensor “see” the events and transmit them back to the management station.

Bio: V. Joseph Trost started tinkering with computers while in high school back in 1976. His dad had remote access to banking industry mainframes and Joe could login after hours and play computer games.  During the 1980’s Joe was a computer operator in New York City and eventually took a job with a software consulting firm as a programmer analyst writing code on COBOL, Fortran, Pascal and C. Late in the 80’s, Joe recognized the potential of computer networking and decided to focus his studies on a new technology called the “Internet”. That led him to Rich Thompson and the Telecommunications Program at the University of Pittsburgh and then to various positions at FORE Systems, Marconi Communications, Ericsson and Tollgrade.

Joe is currently the Director of Software Verification Test (SVT) at Tollgrade Communications, Inc. located in Cranberry Township (30 minutes North of Pittsburgh). The focus of Joe’s work at Tollgrade is related to Quality Assurance Testing of the LightHouse (SmartGrid) Product Line. LightHouse consists of various hardware and software products that allow the electrical utilities to monitor the status of their distribution networks in real-time.

Prior to working at Tollgrade, Joe was the Director of ATM Engineering for Ericsson (Communications Infrastructure Company based in Sweden). Joe’s experience in ATM Networking Technology started in the Technical Assistance Center (TAC) at FORE Systems back in 1995. While at FORE, Joe designed one of the largest ever ATM Networks for the National Security Agency at Fort Meade in Maryland. Joe holds a Master of Science in Telecommunications from the University of Pittsburgh and a Bachelor of Science in Decisions Sciences from Rider University.


Friday April 4, 2014

IS Building, Room 403

Dan Flynn, Accipiter Systems, Wexford, PA

IT Industry Trends:  A Networking Equipment Developer Perspective

Intro/Bio:  Dan Flynn is Pres/CEO of Accipiter Systems, a computer network equipment manufacturer located in Wexford, PA.  Since incorporating in 2002, Accipiter has won contracts with DARPA, the Army, AF, Navsea, Navair and Intelligence Community.  These contracts have focused on the development of optical networking solutions for the LAN.  Previously,  Dan was a Director of Engineering at FORE Systems where he led a group responsible for developing ATM and Ethernet product for the enterprise including network interface cards, firewalls, switch control processors, switches and software.  Prior to FORE Systems, Dan was a Senior Engineer at Loral involved in building supercomputers for processing satellite imagery, and for platforms including aircraft, submarines and surface ships. He has earned an M.S.E.E. from the University of Akron and a B.S.E.E. from Cleveland State University.


Thursday, January 23, 2014

6:30 p.m., Meet the Speaker with pizza
7:00 p.m., Talk
IS Building, Room 406

Dr. Syed Ali Jafar, University of California Irvine, Distinguished Lecturer of the Communications Society

Topological Interference Management through Index Coding

Abstract: This talk will revisit the robust principles of ignoring interference when it is weak and avoiding it when it is strong, in both cases exploring information theoretic optimally with very limited channel knowledge at the transmitters. Optimal interference avoidance shows essentially equivalent to the index-coding problem, which explores an interference alignment perspective. Ignoring interference, i.e., treating interference as noise will be shown to be optimal for the entire capacity region (within a constant gap) if for each user, desired signal strength is no weaker than the sum of the strengths of the strongest interference caused by the user and the strongest interference suffered by the user, with all signal strengths measured in dB scale..

Bio: Syed Ali Jafar received his B. Tech. from IIT Delhi, India, in 1997, M.S. from Caltech, USA, in 1999, and Ph.D. from Stanford, USA, in 2003, all in Electrical Engineering. His industry experience includes positions at Lucent Bell Labs, Qualcomm Inc. and Hughes Software Systems. He is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the University of California Irvine, Irvine, CA USA. His research interests include multiuser information theory and wireless communications.

Dr. Jafar received the NSF CAREER award in 2006, the ONR Young Investigator Award in 2008, the Information Theory Society paper award in 2009, the Maseeh Outstanding Research Award in 2010, and an IEEE GLOBECOM Best Paper Award in 2012. Dr. Jafar received the UC Irvine EECS Professor of the Year award four times, in 2006, 2009, 2011 and 2012, from the Engineering Students Council and the Teaching Excellence Award in 2012 from the School of Engineering. He was a University of Canterbury Erskine Fellow in 2010 and is an IEEE Communications Society Distinguished Lecturer for 2013-2014. Dr. Jafar was the inaugural instructor for the First Canadian School of Information Theory in 2011, a plenary speaker for various conferences and workshops including SPCOM 2010, CTW 2010 and SPAWC 2012. He served as Associate Editor for IEEE Transactions on Communications 2004 - 2009, for IEEE Communications Letters 2008-2009 and for IEEE Transactions on Information Theory 2009-2012. 



Friday, November 15, 2013

IS Building, Room 404

Dr. Ashwin Machanavajjhala, Assistant Professor, Department of Computer Science, Duke University

Blowfish Privacy: Tuning Privacy-Utility Tradeoffs in Statistical Databases using Policies 

Abstract: Tremendous amounts of personal data about individuals are being collected and mined in statistical databases by industry (e.g., Web, medical) and government agencies (e.g. Census). Legal requirements and an increase in public awareness due to egregious breaches of individual privacy have made privacy in statistical databases an important field of research. Privacy definitions provide rigorous ways for trading off the privacy of individuals for the utility of the results of data analysis in such databases. Differential privacy is an important standard for privacy, and it exposes one knob 'epsilon' for tuning this tradeoff.

In this talk, I will show that differential privacy does not sufficiently capture the diversity in the privacy-utility trade-off space -- it provides insufficient utility in some applications and insufficient privacy when data are correlated. I will then describe Blowfish, a class of privacy definitions that provides a richer interface for trading-off privacy for utility. In particular, we allow data publishers to extend differential privacy using a policy, which specifies which information must be kept secret, and what constraints maybe known about the data. While the former allows increased utility by not protecting certain properties about individuals, the latter provides added protection against adversary who know correlations in the data (arising from constraints). I will formalize privacy policies, present novel algorithms that explore new points in the privacy-utility trade-off space, and briefly mention how this work is being adopted in the US Census.

Bio: Ashwin Machanavajjhala is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science, Duke University. Previously, he was a Senior Research Scientist in the Knowledge Management group at Yahoo! Research. His primary research interests lie in data privacy, systems for massive data analytics, and statistical methods for information extraction and entity resolution. He is a recipient of the NSF CAREER award in 2013. Ashwin graduated with a Ph.D. from the Department of Computer Science, Cornell University. His thesis work on defining and enforcing privacy was awarded the 2008 ACM SIGMOD Jim Gray Dissertation Award Honorable Mention. He has also received an M.S. from Cornell University and a B.Tech in Computer Science and Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras.


Friday, November 1, 2013

2:00 p.m.
IS Building, Room 404

Dr. Tao Zhang, Chief Scientist, Cisco Systems

Securing Large-Scale Consumer Vehicle Networks

Abstract: Vehicles are facing increasing security vulnerabilities as they become connected to the Internet and with each other. Researchers and hackers were able to modify the software on electronic control units (ECUs). They have placed unauthorized devices and software on vehicles to control a wide range of vehicle functions. More worrisome are attacks over wireless communications. Malware can propagate onto vehicle electronic systems through multiple venues. Vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications will introduce another new domain of security challenges. These vulnerabilities, unfortunately, represent only the beginning of the many more challenges that must be addressed as more communication applications are brought into vehicles.

Addressing these and future vehicle security challenges requires the solutions to meet many vehicle-specific requirements. A solution must be highly scalable to support, for each automaker, millions of new vehicles each year, tens of millions of vehicles in operation, tens to over a hundred devices on each vehicle, and many more spare parts.  This list goes on. This talk will highlight these security challenges and discuss selected solutions.

Bio: Dr. Tao Zhang is the Chief Scientist for Cisco Connected cars at Cisco Systems. He is a Fellow of the IEEE. For over 25 years, he has been directing research and product development in mobile and vehicular networks. He has co-authored two books “Vehicle Safety Communications: Protocols, Security, and Privacy” and “IP-Based Next Generation Wireless Networks,” published in 2012 and 2004 respectively by John Wiley & Sons. He holds 33 US patents covering areas such as security, mobility management, information dissemination, and energy-conversing protocols for wireless, mobile ad-hoc, sensor, and vehicular networks. Dr. Zhang was a founding member of the Board of Directors of the Connected Vehicle Trade Association (CVTA) in the US. He is the Chair of the IEEE Communications Society Technical Committee on Vehicular Networks and Telematics Applications. He has been serving on editorial boards or as a guest editor for a number of leading technical journals. He has been serving on the industry advisory boards for several research organizations and has been an adjunct professor at multiple universities.


Friday, October 11, 2013

IS Building, Room 403

Dr. Attila Yavuz, Research Scientist, Bosch Research & Technology Center

ETA: Efficient and Tiny Authentication for Heterogeneous Wireless Systems

In this talk, we develop a new cryptographic scheme called Efficient and Tiny Authentication (ETA), which is especially suitable for resource-constrained devices. That is, ETA does not require any expensive operation at the signer side and therefore is more computationally efficient than traditional signatures. Moreover, ETA has much smaller private key, signature and public key sizes than that of its counterparts (e.g., multiple-time and online/offline signatures, pre-computed tokens). ETA is also fully tolerant to packet loss and does not require time synchronization. All these properties make ETA an ideal choice to provide authentication and integrity for heterogeneous systems, in which resource-constrained devices produce publicly verifiable signatures that are verified by resourceful devices (e.g., gateways, laptops, high-end sensors).

Bio: Dr. Attila A. Yavuz is a member of security and privacy research group within Robert Bosch Research and Technology Center North America. He joined Bosch in 2011, after he graduated from North Carolina State University (NCSU) with a PhD degree in Computer Science. He received a BS degree in Computer Engineering from Yildiz Technical University in 2004 and a MS degree in Computer Science from Bogazici University in 2006, both in Istanbul, Turkey.


Friday, September 20, 2013

1:00 p.m.
IS Building, Room 403

Dr. Prashant Krishnamurthy, Associate Professor, University of Pittsburgh, Graduate Telecommunications Program

Wireless Network Visualization

The virtualization of wired networks and end computing systems has become one of the leading trends in networked information and communication technology (ICT) systems. In contrast, relatively little virtualization has occurred in infrastructure based wireless networks, but the idea of virtualizing wireless access is gaining attention as it has the potential to improve spectrum utilization and perhaps create new services. In this talk, we survey the state of the current research in virtualizing wireless networks. We define and describe possible architectures, the issues, hurdles and trends towards implementation of wireless network virtualization.


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

6:00 p.m. - 6:30 p.m., Meet the Speaker with pizza
6:30 p.m. - 7:00 p.m., Talk
IS Building, Room 501

Dr. Teresa Gomes, University of Coimbra, Portugal

Efficient Heuristics for Maximally SRLG-Disjoint Path Pairs

Abstract: The reliability of telecommunication networks is critical to our society. Network service providers, in order to ensure their service level agreements, must ensure the robustness of the network. For that purpose network recovery schemes are set in place, so that when a fault occurs its effects are contained and are not perceived by network users. A Shared Risk Link Group (SRLG) is a group of links which have a common risk of failure. Although the calculation of an SRLG-disjoint path pair is NP-Complete, some effective heuristics for solving this problem will be pointed out. The focus of this presentation will be the description of two heuristics for solving the min-sum maximally node and SRLG-disjoint path pair problem, formulated as a multi-objective optimization problem. The relative performance of the heuristics will be evaluated using three different networks. The envisaged application scenario is a Path Computation Element (PCE) with limited resources, in a Generalized Multiprotocol Label Switching (GMPLS) network.

Bio: Teresa Gomes is Assistant Professor in Telecommunications at the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering of the Faculty of Sciences and Technology of the University of Coimbra, Portugal, since 1998 and with tenure since 2003. At the University of Coimbra she usually teaches courses in computer programming, communications systems and networks, and network reliability. She was Departmental Coordinator of the Erasmus Program from April 2003 until September 2007. She was Vice-President of the Scientific Committee of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (SC-DECE) from February 2008 until September 2009, and has been an elected member of the SC-DECE since September 2009.Presently she is a visiting researcher at the School of Information Sciences of the University of Pittsburgh. Teresa Gomes is also a researcher at the Research and Development (R&D) Unit INESC-Coimbra, where she was a member of its Board of Directors in 2003-04. She was responsible for three R&D Projects between of INESC Coimbra and PT Inovação, in the area of routing with protection in Wavelength-division multiplexing (WDM) and Generalized Multi-Protocol Label Switching (GMPLS) networks. She has also collaborated as a Researcher in several other R&D or Research Projects at INESC-Coimbra. She is the author/co-author of more than 40 technical publications in international journals and conference proceedings, and one European patent. Her main present interests are routing, protection and reliability analysis models and algorithms for optical, GMPLS and MPLS networks.


Friday, April 19, 2013

IS Building, Room 403

Stanislaw Jedrus, Software Engineering Team Manager, Compunetix

Introduction to Creating Complex Systems

Abstract: We're creating ever more complex systems. New software and hardware are often enabled for Internet access in several ways, which has to be integrated with, and deployed using, cloud services. They have to work together with legacy equipment and a wide variety of custom communication hardware and software. There is a discussion about emerging "Internet of Things" - a network of interoperable elements exchanging data without human interaction. New interoperability standards are being introduced every year. How do we design systems in this always changing, dynamic environment with such high interoperability requirements? How do we create systems that precisely satisfy customer requirements? We'll explore how systems engineering and project management attempt to solve those questions together.


Friday, April 12, 2013

IS Building, Room 501

Ioannis Broustis, PhD, Senior Member of Technical Staff, AT&T Labs Research

Interference Mitigation Techniques for LTE Heterogeneous Deployments

Abstract: The emergence of LTE small cells is expected to be pronounced in the near future, towards improving the mobile user Internet experience. Small cells can be deployed in areas of poor macro-cellular coverage, as well as in areas where there is increased bandwidth demand, such as in public hotspots and enterprise environments. With this, heterogeneous deployments (so-called “HetNets”) consisting of cells with diverse power levels are formed, with small-cell base stations frequently reusing the spectrum that is currently assigned to macro-cell base stations. Due to such sharing of the bandwidth resources in areas where small cells are deployed within the coverage area of macro cells, transmissions from macro cells may tremendously interfere with transmissions from small cells, thereby degrading the network performance. In this talk, we revisit standardized techniques towards mitigating such interference, and identify open research problems in this space.

Bio: Ioannis Broustis is a Senior Member of Technical Staff at AT&T Labs Research, working on heterogeneous network architecture design and self-organization solutions. He received his PhD from the Department of Computer Science & Engineering at the University of California, Riverside. Prior to joining AT&T, Ioannis was with Alcatel-Lucent, USA, where he worked on security standards for network and middleware systems, as well as on end-to-end security solutions for multimedia over IP and secure cloud services. Ioannis’ research interests include access network architectures, planning and security protocols, as well as measurement-driven performance improvement techniques. He has served as a reviewer and program committee member for numerous conferences and journals, including ACM MOBIHOC, IEEE SECON, IEEE Transactions on Mobile Computing and IEEE/ACM Transactions on Networking. This year he is the co-chair of the ACM MOBIARCH workshop, which will be collocated with ACM MOBICOM 2013.


Friday, February 1, 2013

IS Building, Room 501

Joseph Trost (MST, ’93), Director of Data Networks Engineering, Tollgrade Communications, Inc.

Introduction to the Tollgrade LightHouse Product Line

Mr. Trost will be presenting information on how the LightHouse System works and why it is a compelling solution for power companies. Tollgrade Communications, Inc. is a leading provider of network assurance solutions for the utility and telecommunication industries worldwide. With a global footprint and 25 years of industry experience delivering value driven solutions to customers, Tollgrade provides a full portfolio of cost-effective and integrated product and service offerings. Tollgrade is a wholly owned subsidiary of Golden Gate Capital, a San Francisco based private equity firm with more than $9 billion of capital under management. Golden Gate Capital has multi-sector investments in companies across a broad range of industries, including a rich background and growing presence in the telecommunications and smart grid space.

Joe Trost is a 1993 graduate of the MST Program at UPitt-SIS.  He has a BS in Decision Sciences from Rider University and an AAS in Computer Science from Middlesex County College in New Jersey. After graduating from the MST Program, Joe was an Adjunct Faculty at SIS and taught the 2058 – Intro to Computer Networks in the MST Program.  During the 1990’s Joe worked in various technical and management roles at FORE Systems developing ATM Networking Solutions including the largest ATM Network (at that time) installed at the National Security Agency.  FORE was purchased by Marconi Communications in 1999 and then Ericsson purchased the Engineering Resources from Marconi in 2007.  At Ericsson, Joe was the Director of Data Networks and had responsibility for hardware, software and QA for the ATM Product line.  In 2009, Joe transferred to Tollgrade as Ericsson shut down the Warrendale Campus.  Joe is currently the Director of Systems Verification Test (Software QA) at Tollgrade. Tollgrade’s primary product focus and commercial success has been in the telephone systems test head market. These systems monitor the health of the “last mile” in the telephone network.  Tollgrade’s engineering expertise with the physical layer copper transmission wires has allowed us to develop products for the growing “SmartGrid” Market.  SmartGrid is the umbrella term used for adding intelligence to the electrical power utilities infrastructure.  Tollgrade has developed sensors (LightHouse) that monitor medium voltage power distribution lines.


Friday, January 18, 2013

IS Building, Room 501

Evimaria Terzi, Assistant Professor, Computer Science Department, Boston University

Routing State Distance: A Path-based Metric for Network Analysis.

Abstract: In this talk, we will introduce a new approach to analysis of the interdomain routing system designed to shed light on collective routing policies. For this, we will start by defining a new metric for ʽdistanceʼ between prefixes, which we will call routing state distance (RSD). We will then show that RSD has a number of properties that make it attractive for use in visualizing and analyzing the state of the BGP system. Further, since RSD is a metric, it lends itself naturally to use in clustering prefixes or ASes. In fact, we will demonstrate how the properties of RSD allow us to define a natural clustering criterion, and we will show that this criterion admits to a simple clustering algorithm with provable approximation guarantees. We will then show that by clustering ASes using RSD, one can uncover macroscopic behavior in BGP that was previously hidden. For example, we will show how to identify groups of ASes having similar routing policies with respect to certain destinations, which apparently reflects shared sensitivity to economic or performance considerations. These routing patterns represent a considerable generalization and extension of the notion of BGP atoms to the case where routing policies are only locally and approximately similar across a set of prefixes.

Dr. Terzi serves as an Assistant Professor in the Computer Science Department at Boston University. Before coming to Boston University, she was a member of the research staff at IBM Almaden Research Center. Her current research focuses on data mining with emphasis on social-network analysis, analysis of sequential data, ranking, clustering and bioinformatics. In particular she is working on problems related to expert identification and team formation in social networks, analysis of online product reviews, and privacy-preserving social network analysis. Evimaria is a Microsoft Faculty Fellow and her research is supported by NSF and gifts from Yahoo! , Google, and Microsoft. She was recently honored by being appointed as a Junior Faculty Fellow to the Hariri Institute at Boston University.



Friday, November 30, 2012

IS Building, Room 501

Donald H. Carretta, Executive Director-Network-OH/PA/WV, Verizon Wireless

Donald H. Carretta is Executive Director-Network for the OH/PA/WV Region for Verizon Wireless. In his current position, Mr. Carretta is responsible for network engineering, network operations and network system performance including the strategic direction of network investment in the three-state area.  Verizon Wireless continues to invest nearly a half billion dollars a year under the direction of Mr. Carretta’s team. Prior to becoming Executive Director-Network – Pittsburgh Region for Bell Atlantic Mobile in October, 1992, Mr. Carretta had more than 18 years’ service with Bell Atlantic’s landline operations including assignments in outside plant operations, outside plant engineering, customer service, technical support staff and installation & maintenance in the Western PA and Central PA areas. A graduate of Pennsylvania State University, Mr. Carretta holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and has earned his Master’s of Business Administration from the University of Pittsburgh.


Friday, October 26, 2012

IS Building, Room 501

Dominique Blanc, General Manager, eWON Inc.

Challenges and Opportunities for Remote Access in the Industry

Dominique Blanc is the General Manager of eWON Inc. He has more than 15 years of experience in remote service and automation products. Breaking the barrier between industrial applications and IT standards, the mission of eWON is to connect industrial machines securely to the Internet, enabling easy remote access and gathering all types of technical data originating from industrial machines. Typical applications within the scope of our mission include remote maintenance, predictive maintenance, remote services, asset management, remote metering, multi-site building management, M2M, and more.


Friday, October 5, 2012

IS Building, Room 501

Konstantinos Pelechrinis, Assistant Professor, School of Information Sciences

Location-based Social Networks: Bonding Social and Spatial Information

During the last few years, boosted by advancements in mobile handheld devices, a new class of digital social networks, namely location-based social networks (LBSNs), has emerged. It is now possible to bring into the equation of online social networks (OSNs) another dimension, that of location, due to the significantly improved ability of mobile devices to accurately estimate their position. The underlying communities not only have social ties and/or interests in common, but they are also "connected" with regards to their geographic locations. In other words, LBSNs tie together the virtual and physical worlds through the location information. This bond can enable a number of novel, convenient, and appealing services which will make LBSNs popular.

With LBSNs becoming prevalent, it becomes critical to comprehend and discriminate the types of knowledge we can obtain from the bond between locations and social ties.  This can further enable a better understanding of the trends in an LBSN and the way people perceive and use location information from these systems.  The main focus of this talk is to answer this question "What are the bonds between the social and spatial information in an LBSN and what are the metrics that can reveal them?" We tackle this question by using a dataset obtained from a commercial LBSN (Gowalla) and we make two main interesting observations; (i) the social network exhibits signs of homophily with regards to the places visited by the users, and (ii) the "nature" of the visited venues that are common to users is informative in revealing the social/spatial linkages.

Dr. Pelechrinis, who earned his PhD at the University of California – Riverside, teaches computer networking and network security classes at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. His research interests include protocol design, real-world experimentation, location-based social networking and performance analysis for security and trust issues in wireless networks. He completed his doctoral studies in June 2010: his thesis examined “Security and Performance Considerations in Wireless Networks." While  undertaking his doctoral studies, he also served as a researcher at Los Alamos National Labs, Technicolor Research Lab in Paris (formerly Thompsons) and Microsoft Research at Cambridge UK. In addition, Pelechrinis was a Visiting Researcher at the University of Thessaly in Greece.


Friday, September 14, 2012

IS Building, Room 501

Yu Zheng, Lead Researcher, Microsoft Research Asia

Urban Computing with City Dynamics

Urban computing is emerging as a concept where every sensor, device, person, vehicle, building, and street in urban areas can be used as a component to probe city dynamics to further enable city-wide computing for serving people and their cities.

Urban computing aims to enhance both human life and the urban environment smartly through a recurrent process of sensing, mining, understanding, and improving. Urban computing also aims to understand deeply the nature and sciences behind the phenomenon occurring in urban spaces, using a variety of heterogeneous data sources reflecting city dynamics, such as traffic flows, human mobility, geographic and map data, environment, energy consumption, populations, and economics.

In this talk, we will present our recent research on urban computing with city dynamics, introducing innovative application scenarios and the technology for integrating and mining heterogeneous city dynamics, such as, finding smart driving directions based on taxi trajectories, identify different functional regions (e.g., residential and commercial areas) in urban spaces using both POIs and human mobility, gleaning the problematic city configurations, and anomaly detection in road traffic flows (these examples have been published in top-tier conferences and journals recently, such as KDD, UbiComp, ICDE). More details can be found on this page

Dr. Yu Zheng is a lead researcher from Microsoft Research Asia. He is an IEEE senior member and ACM senior member. His research interests include location-based services, spatio-temporal data mining, ubiquitous computing, and mobile social applications. He has published over 50 referred papers at high-quality international conferences and journals, such as SIGMOD, SIGKDD, AAAI, ICDE, WWW, Ubicomp, and IEEE TKDE, where he has received 3 best paper awards as well as 1 best paper nominee and a number of most cited papers. These papers have also been featured by top-tier presses like MIT Technology Review multiple times.

In addition, he has been serving over 30 prestigious international conferences as a chair or a program committee member, including ICDE, KDD, Ubicomp, and IJCAI, etc. So far, he has received 3 technical transfer awards from Microsoft and 20 granted/filed patents. In 2008, he was recognized as the Microsoft Golden Star.


Friday, March 30, 2012

IS Building, Room 404

Patrick Tague, Assistant Research Professor, Cylab, Carnegie Mellon University

Awareness & Adaptation for Robust Wireless Communication

As more and more wireless systems are being deployed, it is becoming increasingly important for these systems to be able to effectively manage and use their resources to satisfy system demands and operational requirements. The typical way of handling this task is to come up with a conservative model of the system and design the protocols of interest using a one-time optimization around the assumed system model. However, because a static system model will not always match the real-world scenario, this approach can lead to under-utilization of available resources when conditions are good and catastrophic failures when conditions are bad.  In our work, we take an alternate approach by avoiding predetermined models whenever possible, instead relying on network devices to observe and learn the state of the system dynamically, making the system self-aware.  By enabling this awareness, the network itself can now adapt to changing conditions, varying resources, and external events.  In this talk, we present two of our ongoing projects that make use of this awareness property to enable self-healing properties.  First, we present our work on developing inference-based adaptive anti-jamming algorithms that allow software-defined radios to modify physical layer parameters in response to changing network and attack conditions.  Second, we present our work on providing self-healing Smart Grid communications in disaster or outage scenarios by bootstrapping a temporary wireless mesh network infrastructure to relay grid health data to a system operator for diagnostic purposes.

Tague is an Assistant Research Professor at Carnegie Mellon University, holding appointments with CyLab, the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, the Information Networking Institute, and the Silicon Valley Campus.  His research interests include wireless mesh, ad-hoc, and sensor networks; mobile security and privacy; cyber-physical system security; cross-layer attacks and defenses; and security-performance trade-offs. 


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