Best Student Paper Award at IEEE CCNC goes to CMU-SV grads-Silicon Valley Campus - Carnegie Mellon University

Friday, January 17, 2014

Best Student Paper Award at IEEE CCNC goes to CMU-SV grads

Arjun Athreya receives the Best Student Paper Award at IEEE CCNC. (Photo courtesy Kerrianne Sullivan, IEEE ComSoc)
Arjun Athreya receives the Best Student Paper Award at IEEE CCNC. (Photo courtesy Kerrianne Sullivan, IEEE ComSoc)

As researchers develop more capabilities for connected devices and find new ways for sensors to share data in all kinds of environments, they must confront a fundamental question: how does the Internet of Things use and manager power?

Carnegie Mellon graduates Arjun Athreya (MS SE '13) and Harry Chan-Maestas (MS ECE '13) looked into the issue in "Energy-Governed Resilient Networked Systems," winning the Best Student Paper Award at the 11th annual IEEE Consumer Communications and Networking Conference (CCNC) in Las Vegas.

Bob Iannucci, associate dean and director of the Silicon Valley campus, said this was a significant achievement for the students and demonstrated the quality and innovation of research at the campus. He was also a faculty adviser and co-author on the paper, along with Patrick Tague and Ed Katz.

The students began collaborating in the Low-Power System-on-Chip Architecture course, offered in the Silicon Valley campus's Connected Embedded Systems concentration. When multiple sensors, phones and other devices are constantly communicating via a wireless network, the energy supply is a constant concern. To manage disruptions and failures, Athreya and Chan-Maestas proposed a framework to throttle upstream network traffic, which they tested using lightweight operating system Nano-RK and sensing platform Firefly. Athreya's work built on previous collaboration with Tague at CMU-SV on understanding communication resilience in the Smart Grid, work that prepared the team for the slightly more challenging paradigm of connected embedded systems.

With connected and smart environments becoming more popular as sensor prices drop, Athreya said "Both of us had the fullest belief our work was solving an important problem." They installed network nodes at different spots around the Carnegie Mellon Innovation Lab and tracked energy use when transmitting and receiving data.

Chan-Maestas said he was surprised that theirs was one of the first practical experiments; previous research had been all theoretical. "The idea that we should determine how devices communicate based on actual conditions on the ground, not just in theory, was interesting to test," he said.

Their proposed framework, root preserving self-organization, uses a network formation algorithm  to lower the energy consumption for communications for the entire network. On a small scale, it resulted in savings between 17 and 27 percent. "Even without implementing it, we can use our design to prove that this saves energy," explained Chan-Maestas. 

According to Tague, "Arjun and Harry's work demonstrates the need for innovative networking solutions for the next generation of wireless and embedded systems and shows the clear gains that can be achieved through clever design."

It's a significant step, and the paper notes they envision both larger savings and better network longevity in very critical and large-scale operating environments.

Athreya, now in the Ph.D. program at University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign, presented the paper at IEEE-CCNC as part of the Green Computing & Communications Program. Attendance for the paper was good, and he received positive feedback from the session chair. Still, the award itself was a surprise: "There were many good papers and ideas there and I was quite blank when they announced our paper as a winner," he said.