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DOD Awards $7.5 Million Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative Grant
September 30, 2019

The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) has announced the award of a $7.5 million, five-year Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative grant to an interdisciplinary research team led by Virginia Tech to study latency and information freshness in military Internet of Things (IoT) systems.

Information latency is a measure of how quickly or slowly networked devices transmit information. When the information being transmitted is for the military, understanding latency may be the deciding factor in the outcome of warfare.

The goal of the study is to develop a novel foundational framework for guaranteeing low latency and information freshness in military networked systems, such as the IoT, using a cutting-edge concept known as multimode age of information, which tightly ties in information latency with the dynamic networked military system.

The project will fundamentally define this new concept of information latency and provide a suite of tools to optimize multimode age of information in massive-scale military networked systems.

“Despite much progress being made in the study of military communications, the basic science for tracking, control, and optimization of information latency is yet to be developed,” explained principal investigator Jeffrey Reed, Willis G. Worcester Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering in the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech. “In fact, a fundamental knowledge of information latency is crucial for our military to maintain information superiority on the battlefield.”

According to the announcement, the project will involve fundamental research coupled with extensive experimental prototypes and demonstrations to validate the proposed novel framework in real-world domains critical to military services. By the grant’s end, the team will equip the Department of Defense with latency-centric innovations and foundational science of information latency broadly applicable across multiple military applications.

“This project addresses complex, multidisciplinary problems that are poised to have a significant impact on national security,” said Stefan Duma, director of the Institute of Critical Technology and Applied Science (ICTAS). “This project encompasses multiple areas that are of interest to ICTAS and we look forward to support the team and its successful execution of this project.”

The Department of Defense’s highly competitive Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) grant program invites teams of researchers to submit research proposals on designated topics of high importance to the Department of Defense and military services. Each topic requires expertise from multiple scientific and technical disciplines.

“The challenges we face today are highly complex in nature and do not fall in line with a single discipline,” said Mitch Nikolich, director of the U.S. Department of Defense’s Defense Research and Engineering for Research and Technology. “MURIs acknowledge these complexities by supporting teams whose members have diverse sets of expertise as well as creative and different approaches to tackling problems. It’s a program that remains a cornerstone of the DOD’s legacy of scientific impact.”

The Virginia Tech-led team will receive $7.5 million over five years starting in 2019, with a three-year base period and two-year optional period. As the leading institution of the award, Virginia Tech’s portion is $5 million.

The team, consisting of four Virginia Tech researchers from the College of Engineering and one faculty member from two participating institutions, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and The Ohio State University (OSU), is borne out of a close collaboration among researchers in wireless networks, information theory, signal processing, game theory, optimization, learning, control theory, computer science, and cybersecurity.

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