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 has increased tremendously in the last decade. In turn, the type and volume of wireless traffic also have evolved 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 remain unimpeded by traffic characteristics, other than traffic load.

The three-year project, “NeTS: Small: Principles and Protocols for Traffic-Insensitive Performance in Wireless Networks,” got underway in October.

“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.

He said that the advancement of machine learning technologies could lead to significant wireless traffic distribution changes.

“I expect intelligent services to dominate wireless networks in the next 10 years,” he said. “For example, mobile devices may be used to recognize an image, translate English to foreign languages in real-time, or even diagnose diseases by recording users’ appearances, behaviors and symptom descriptions.”

The proposal for this study stemmed from research Li conducted while pursuing his doctorate. He developed wireless scheduling algorithms with similar properties that provided regular services for network users. His round-robin algorithm demonstrated that it was largely insensitive to network traffic.

“Based on this preliminary study, I proposed further research on the traffic-insensitive scheduling design in wireless networks,” Li said.

He said the research will have to address the difficulty that wireless interference imposes on developing round-robin-like algorithms and the often widely differing channel conditions that users experience.

The research will take place in three stages:

  • develop round-robin-like algorithms for wireless networks;
  • consider 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.

The project aims to establish efficient, adaptable and scalable algorithms that are robust to the diverse wireless traffic penetrating almost every wireless system.