Li Receives Grant to Boost Performance of Wireless Networks

Bin Li
Bin Li, photo by John Peterson

By Neil Nachbar

The use of smart phones and other intelligent wireless devices have increased tremendously in the last decade. Concurrently, the type of wireless traffic has also changed significantly.

“The type of wireless traffic has changed drastically over the past 10 years,” said URI Assistant Professor Bin Li. “Wireless traffic mainly consisted of messages, voices and e-mails, but now is full of video streaming, real-time gaming and personal data management.”

Li has received a $301,430 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to develop algorithms that will enable the performance of networks to not be affected by any traffic characteristics except the mean traffic load.

Started on Oct. 1, 2017, the project, titled, “NeTS: Small: Principles and Protocols for Traffic-Insensitive Performance in Wireless Networks,” will take three years to complete.

“While there’s nothing we can do to deal with the increasing traffic load, except enlarging network capacity by adding more network resources or enhancing physical layer transmission techniques, we strongly desire to develop wireless algorithms with traffic-insensitive performance,” explained Li.

According to Li, the advancement of machine learning technologies will lead to significant wireless traffic distribution changes.

“I expect intelligent services to dominate wireless networks in the next 10 years,” said the professor. “For example, users may use mobile devices to recognize an image, translate English to foreign languages (such as Chinese, French, and Spanish) in real-time, or even diagnose their diseases by recording their appearances, behaviors and symptom descriptions.”

The proposal for this study stemmed from research Li conducted while pursuing his doctorate.

“In my Ph.D. studies, I developed a parametric class of wireless scheduling algorithms that provided regular services for network users, and possessed similar properties as a round robin algorithm whose performance has been demonstrated to be insensitive to the distribution of network traffic except for its mean,” Li stated. “Based on this preliminary study, I proposed further research on the traffic-insensitive scheduling design in wireless networks.”

The challenge, according to Li, is “it is very difficult to develop round-robin-like algorithms in wireless networks due to wireless interference, as well as the fact that channel conditions for different users can be widely different.”

The research will take place in three stages:

  • develop round-robin-like algorithms for wireless networks
  • consider its low-complexity implementation with performance guarantees in various network scenarios, such as cellular networks, cyber-physical systems, and Internet-of-Things
  • implement these algorithms in embedded system design development boards and evaluate their performance

Once completed, the project is expected to establish efficient, adaptable and scalable algorithms that are robust to the diverse wireless traffic penetrating almost every wireless system.