Distributed Computing In a Wireless Environment Study Underway
November 22, 2010

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is funding a proof-of-concept study at Virginia Tech to develop highly connected computer systems that operate in a wireless environment.

Small handheld devices and other computers that are smart enough to work in a wireless setting would allow military personnel and other users to pool computing and communication resources for gathering intelligence more easily, analyzing information more efficiently, and, ultimately, making better decisions in a wide range of locations.

As part of the project, researchers at Wireless @Virginia Tech and the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute will be looking at ways to take advantage of multiple computers and handheld devices that talk to each other through fast, cable-free networks.

“Traditional wired distributed computing has been around for many years, allowing computationally intensive tasks to be performed efficiently via many, physically connected computers,” said Jeffrey Reed, principal investigator for the project and professor in the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Virginia Tech. “Our effort will focus on developing distributed computer systems that work in a cable-free environment, which will bring a new level of flexibility to users who need to work in rapidly changing, often challenging, mobile environments.”

The Virginia Bioinformatics Institute team working on the project includes Madhav Marathe, co-principal investigator on the project and deputy director of the Network Dynamics and Simulation Science Laboratory at the institute, Anil Vullikanti, assistant professor at Virginia Bioinformatics Institute, and Maleq Khan, computational scientist at the institute. A big part of building a successful distributed wireless network is ensuring that the system has the ability for decision-making and subsequent communication.

The initial project will demonstrate the feasibility of wireless distributed computing using the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Wireless Network after Next (WNaN), an established program that looks to develop flexible and scalable communication networks that use very inexpensive yet flexible software radios.

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