Viswanath searches for solution to interference in wireless networks

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By Katie Carr, CSL
August 22, 2014

  • Professor Pramod Viswanath was recently awarded a three-year, $360,000 grant from the Army.
  • Viswanath's project, titled "Wireless Networks as Polymatroidal Graphs: Embedding, Multicommodity Flows, Cuts and Function Computation," addresses interference in wireless networks and how to manage that interference in a distributed way.
  • Viswanath is working with Illinois Computer Science Professor Chandra Chekuri and 2012 ECE ILLINOIS graduate Sreeram Kannan, who is joining University of Washington at Seattle as an assistant professor.

Professor Pramod Viswanath was recently awarded a three-year, $360,000 grant from the Army for his project titled “Wireless Networks as Polymatroidal Graphs: Embeddings, Multicommodity Flows, Cuts and Function Computation.” This project will address interference in wireless networks and how to manage that interference in a distributed way.

Pramod  Viswanath
Pramod Viswanath

“Wireless communication is unlike wires in two key ways,” Viswanath said. “First, the medium of wire doesn’t much change over time or frequency; but in wireless, mobility and scattering changes the medium of communication all the time. This is even a bigger deal if a parallel transmission interferes.”

Viswanath is working with Illinois Computer Science Professor Chandra Chekuri and 2012 ECE ILLINOIS graduate Sreeram Kannan, who is joining University of Washington at Seattle as an Assistant Professor, on the project. Kannan’s PhD work in this area led to funding from the Army Research Office and a continuation of the project.

The Army is interested in this type of research for a variety of reasons, according to Viswanath, but particularly because they often work in areas where there is no infrastructure and they want to create a wireless infrastructure as they go along. Viswanath said he foresees uses such as soldiers communicating when out in the field or a person transmitting a video during a broadcast or multicast.

Specifically, Viswanath will be looking at combining local physical layer solutions that deal with channel variation and noise with global network layer solutions such as routing and networking coding. The researchers will be using polymatroidal graphs to model interference and are working to understand how to communicate on such graphs. The goal is to develop guidelines to design layered near-optimal architectural solutions to wireless network communication problems. The mathematics of communication uncovered as part of this project is of independent interest in graph theory and algorithmic theory.

“Wireless communication is such a key technology of today’s information age,” Viswanath said. “We’re looking for some basic methods in wireless communication to help in the areas where you don’t have the years and the capital investment needed to set up wireless infrastructure."

Editor's note: media inquiries should be directed to Brad Petersen, Director of Communications, at bradp@illinois.edu or (217) 244-6376.

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