Douglas Sicker-Engineering and Public Policy - Carnegie Mellon University

Douglas Sicker

Department Head, Engineering and Public Policy

Lord Endowed Chair of Engineering

Professor, Engineering and Public Policy, Computer Science

Department of Engineering and Public Policy
Carnegie Mellon University
5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
Office: Baker Hall 129H
Phone: (412) 268-2838


  • Department Head and Professor, Engineering and Public Policy, Carnegie Mellon University, 2014 -
  • Director of the Interdisciplinary Telecommunications Program, 12/2012 – 8/2014, University of Colorado at Boulder
  • Professor, 5/2013 – present, Department of Computer Science and the Interdisciplinary Telecommunications Program, University of Colorado at Boulder (on leave)
  • Executive Director and Chair of the Technical Working Group, 10/2012 – present, Broadband Internet Technical Advisory Group (BITAG), Denver, CO
  • Chief Technology Officer and Senior Advisor on Spectrum, 10/2011 – 9/2012, Department of Commerce, National Telecommunications and Information Administration, US Federal Government, Washington, DC
  • DBC Endowed Chair, 1/2011 – present, Department of Computer Science and the Interdisciplinary Telecommunications Program, University of Colorado at Boulder
  • Chief Technology Officer, 6/2010 – 10/2011, Federal Communications Commission, US Federal Government, Washington, DC
  • Senior Advisor and co-author, The National Broadband Plan, (part-time) 9/2009 – 4/2010, Broadband Task Force, U.S. Federal Communications Commission, Washington, DC
  • Associate Professor, 8/2008 – 5/2013, Department of Computer Science and the Interdisciplinary Telecommunications Program, University of Colorado at Boulder
  • Assistant Professor, 1/2002 – 8/2008, Department of Computer Science and the Interdisciplinary Telecommunications Program, University of Colorado at Boulder
  • Director of Global Architecture, 11/2000 – 12/2001, Level 3 Communications
  • Division Chief, 5/1998 – 11/2000, Network Technology Division, Office of Engineering and Technology, Federal Communications Commissions (FCC) (first as Senior Technologist in Common Carrier Bureau)

Dr. Douglas C. Sicker has held various positions in academia, industry and government. Doug is currently the Department Head and professor of Engineering and Public Policy with a joint appointment in the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University. Doug also serves as the Executive Director of the Broadband Internet Technical Advisory Group (BITAG) and the Chief Strategist of CMMB Vision. Previously, Doug was the DBC Endowed Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Colorado at Boulder with a joint appointment in, and director of, the Interdisciplinary Telecommunications Program. Doug recently served as the Chief Technology Officer and Senior Advisor for Spectrum at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). Doug also served as the Chief Technology Officer of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and prior to this he served as a senior advisor on the FCC National Broadband Plan. Earlier he was Director of Global Architecture at Level 3 Communications, Inc. In the late 1990s, Doug served as Chief of the Network Technology Division at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). 

Doug is a member of the IEEE, the ACM and the Internet Society. He served as 1) an advisor to the Department of Justice National Institute of Justice; 2) the Chair of the Network Reliability and Interoperability Council steering committee, an FCC federal advisory committee that focuses on network reliability, wire line spectral integrity and Internet peering and interconnection; 3) an advisor on the Technical Advisory Council of the FCC. He served as a chair in the IEEE P1900 working group and was involved in developing contributions to the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). He has served as the chair of several conferences as well as on numerous program committees. Doug has published extensively in the fields of networking, wireless systems, network security and network policy and has maintained a well-funded research program through NSF, DARPA and other sources. For additional details please see


  • Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh, 2001
  • M.S., University of Pittsburgh, 1993
  • B.S., University of Pittsburgh, 1988


I work at the intersection of network technology and public policy, an area rich in technically challenges and socially significant research topics. At the highest level, my research interests are as follows:

Dynamic Spectrum Access: Developing new models of spectrum management and methods for enabling coexistence among radio services. Of particular interest is coexistence with legacy systems, including interoperability and compatibility between federal and non-federal systems. I am currently developing new technical models and policies to address interference limits between legacy services and emerging new services. I plan to explore methods of reallocation based on coexistence, cooperation and/or interference tolerance.

Security and Privacy: Developing models to address security concerns in emerging dynamic spectrum access systems. Defining risk attributed to new dynamic spectrum access technology. Exploring jamming and anti-jamming mechanisms through dynamic spectrum access technology. Assessing consumer understanding of privacy online. Measuring the demand and willingness to pay for online privacy.

Broadband networking: Exploiting the huge data sets that exist (within network operators) to assess the operation of the Internet. With access to the right data sets, there are hundreds of questions to ask and answer about the operation of the Internet. Exploring new models for growth of edge services and cloud operations (IPv6, IoT, high speed broadband, SDN…). Apply SDN controller architectures to wireless networking problems such as handoff, configuration, network management and transcoding.

Network policy: Implementing data-driven decision-making. Adopting process transparency and accountability. Assessing new models for communicating privacy and security attributes to consumers. Reforming radio spectrum management.

Below is a set of example topics I would like to explore:

1. Is it possible to convert customary transmitter-power constraints into receiver interference limits? This is the question of, “how do we move interference issues from the transmitter to the receiver?” What method might we consider for negotiating towards maximizing social surplus?

2. Would a spectrum model based on interference limits offer any advantage in terms of improving spectrum use -mitigating conflicts, maximizing utility…?

3. What interference threshold models are acceptable? Traditionally conservative thresholds are set at a high false positive; interference is strongly dependent on the starting assumptions (metrics, measurement, thresholds, models...). How might other thresholds be justified?

4. Does beamforming actually reduce a threat in the face of rogue jamming devices? What are the limits of high efficiency in spectrum reuse from beamforming in live radio environments?

5. Develop an initial test-bed facility to study and investigate the possibilities of shared spectrum access between disparate users. The desire is to build upon this capability and make it a repeatable process so that collected information, lessons-learned, and its applicable infrastructure can be re-used for future experimentations and/or demonstrations. It is envisioned to expand this capability into a transparent, comprehensive and distributed testing & demonstration environment that seeks to leverage current and future technologies as a means to model, simulate and/or perform live experimentation. Can a red team / black team approach be used to assess spectrum testbeds? Establish two teams that are intended to focus on different sides of a spectrum problem.

6. What enforcement and monitoring programs make sense for the FCC in the future? There are at least two very different areas to consider – future of broadcast decency issues AND spectrum enforcement – and the models for each will likely diverge.

7. Is there a future model of dense small cells in urban areas that may be community/end-user deployed, which is not solely controlled by, and may be independent of, carriers? What would it take to enable? Why can't I have a home router with Sprint, VZW, AT&T, WiFi, 3.5GBps, etc. radios that I (as an end-user) can manage? What complementary infrastructure (poles with power for antennas and backhaul siting, maybe collocated at anchor institutions) is needed to have to make this work? How can this alternative model of community-level wide-area (i.e., not just in my home) wireless connectivity grow and interconnect with provider models?

8. What is a functional mixed model of spectrum regulation? One could look at legacy spectrum allocation as a very static database approach to spectrum management (the allocation tables are the dbase and it changes slowly and at great expense), versus a full-blown cognitive radio vision as sensor-enabled handsets that negotiate spectrum access in real-time. Reality is somewhere in between. What are the economics of this future and what has to change in technology, business and policy to allow for it?

9. How much to sense and sample in cognitive radios? Examine the problems and performance of wideband spectrum sensing methods (Nyquist and sub-Nyquist sampling sensing methods) under situations of high Doppler and time-varying characteristics of links caused by high relative mobility between nodes, as well as the multipath effect caused by complex terrain environment.

10. What is the role of compressive sensing in cognitive radios? In wideband multi-channel networks, could one use compressive sensing-based channel estimation and signal detection methods to alleviate processing overhead and the requirement of ADC, DSP or FPGA, to achieve the Space-time-frequency spectrum reusing and dynamic spectrum management. Because the sensing object is the signal with a known modulation, we might not need to accurately reconstruct the signal, rather just extract the characteristic parameter of wideband wireless signal, and then determine the channel and what modulation mode is used with a much smaller processing overhead.

11. How might we improve the adjacent channel selectivity for whitespace receivers in a cost effective manner? How selective do these devices really need to be given the current and future legacy receivers?

12. A few thoughts on research relating to broadband access: Is it possible to create inexpensive, simple and mutable broadband access edge equipment? How might Software Defined Networking be used as a tool to create and manage simple broadband access equipment (wireless AP, cable modems, optical terminals…) based on technology that can allow the network edge to evolve and adapt. Can we use NetfFow and/or other data sources to assess interconnection conflicts? Examine the role of empirical data analysis of traffic flows across the Internet. Can we use BGP as an IGP for cloud and data center routing? Examine the application of policy based routing in environments with diverse application and content sources. I’m interested in the many issues surrounding privacy on networked systems. I’m interested in understanding how to better inform policy makers with the right set of data and analysis of that data, “data driven policy”.

13. I also work on applying decision analysis and cost benefit analysis to problems in the ICT policy space. These problems, such as network interconnection and the provision of societally beneficial (accessibility or emergency) services, are complex in terms of incentives and associated cost or pricing issues.

14. An arguably less academically rigorous interest of mine involves helping policymakers understand the technical and economic aspects of networked systems. Sometimes this work can take the form of technical tutorials (e.g., how a technology works) and other times it can involve diving deeply into the potential problems that might arise because of policy decisions that don’t appreciate the implications of an emerging technology.


  1. Eric Anderson, Caleb Phillips, Douglas Sicker and Dirk Grunwald, "Optimization Decomposition for Scheduling and System Configuration in Wireless Networks", IEEE Transactions on Networking, Jan 2014.
  1. "Impact of Fiber Availability on Real Estate Values", Gabor Molnar, Scott Savage, and Douglas Sicker, Journal on Telecommunications and High Technology Law (JTHTL), Vol 12, Issue 2.
  1. Caleb Phillips, Douglas Sicker, and Dirk Grunwald. Bounding the Practical Error of Path Loss Models. International Journal of Antennas and Propagation. Volume 2012, Article ID 754158. (21 pages)
  1. Caleb Phillips, Douglas Sicker, and Dirk Grunwald, A Survey of Wireless Path Loss Prediction and Coverage Mapping Methods, IEEE Communications Society Surveys and Tutorials, 2013.  (20 pages)
  1. Chenyu Zheng and Douglas Sicker, A Survey on Biologically Inspired Algorithms for Computer Networking, IEEE Communications Society Surveys and Tutorials, 2013. (12 pages)
  1. Dola Saha, Aveek Dutta, Dirk Grunwald and Douglas Sicker, “GRaTIS: Free Bits In The Network”, IEEE Transactions on Mobile Systems, 2013.  
  1. Eric Anderson, Caleb Phillips, Douglas Sicker, and Dirk Grunwald.  Modeling Environmental Effects on Directionality.  Mathematical and Computer Modeling Journal.  Special Issue on Modeling and Simulation of Wireless Networks. Vol. 53, Issue 11-12, pages 2078-2092, Elsevier.  June 2010.  (12 pages) 
  1. Janghyun Baek, Jonghun Park, Douglas C. Sicker and Taehan Lee.  Modeling and performance analysis of the movement-based registration with implicit registration.  IEICE Transactions on Communications, Vol.E93-B, No.05, May 2010.  (5 pages)
  1. Christian Doerr, Douglas Sicker, and Dirk Grunwald.  Local Control of Cognitive Radio Networks.  Annals of Telecommunications, Vol. 64, No 1-2, Pages 503-534, 2009.  (31 pages)
  1. Tim Brown and Douglas C. Sicker.  Examining the Viability of Cognitive Radio-based Broadband Wireless Access, EURASIP Journal on Wireless Communications and Networking, Vol. 2008, Article 21, Jan. 2008.  (12 pages)