CAREER: Enabling Futuristic Distributed Applications With Integrative Multistream Networking

Principal Investigator: Ketan Mayer-Patel
Funding Agency: National Science Foundation
Agency Number: ANI-0238260


We live in a sea of information devices. Aside from traditional computers, our work and home environments are brimming with cell phones, laptops, personal digital assistants (PDA’s), digital cameras, camcorders, digital video recorders, webcams, security sensors, and myriad other information devices. Despite their steady increase in both number and sophistication, these devices still largely exist as islands of information. Communication between devices limited to simple transfers and/or remote access. In our mind’s eye, however, we can easily see the potential for much more. Realizing the full potential of our information infrastructure requires building distributed applications in which the capabilities of these myriad devices are harnessed together. The Internet applications of today connect devices (i.e., connecting my browser with the CNN server). The Internet applications of the future will connect environments (i.e., all of the devices in my office to the devices in the CNN newsroom). The networking challenges presented by these applications are fundamentally different than traditional client/server applications. Futuristic distributed applications are difficult to build because current networking infrastructures do not support their characteristic multistream architecture. In my career, I propose to address the networking challenges presented by futuristic distributed multiflow applications. I will focus on the problems that arise when managing multiple semantically related flows of data within an application. Exploiting high-level semantic relationships between flows is important for achieving application-level goals and appropriately allocating limited network resources. These problems are particularly interesting when these ‘peer’ flows have heterogeneous transport-level requirements (i.e., latency, reliability, response to packet loss, etc.). My research will advance the field by defining and exploring a new dimension of networking in which interstream relationships are significant. Doing so not only enables the development of exciting innovative multistream distributed applications, but in a larger sense advances our understanding of the complex relationship between the structure and meaning of information. Ultimately, the greatest impact of my research will be to enable people to communicate more effectively. The proposed mechanisms will facilitate the development of a new generation of Internet applications in which myriad information devices within the environment are employed in a coordinated fashion. These applications will create seamless information spaces that will provide people with unprecedented access to complex information.

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