2000-2003 Special Focus on Next Generation Networks Technologies and Applications: Overview

DIMACS, the Center for Discrete Mathematics and Theoretical Computer Science, will hold a Special Focus on Next Generation Networks Technologies and Applications beginning in January 2000 and going at least through Summer 2003.

As the computer age has reached the end of the millenium, there has been a major shift, namely, to interconnect computation and global communications as well as share information. This convergence of computing, telecommunications and information is poised to take off even further with novel technology (e.g., cable, wireless and other high speed/bandwidth networking options) and phenomenally successful applications (e.g., web). We are seeing the proliferation of mobile computation units, networking of unprecedented scale, bandwidth demand growing at an exponential rate, and petabytes of distributed shared data. The emerging technological reality offers opportunities that will dramatically transform society.

While the underlying technologies continue to advance at a rapid pace, the fundamental principles governing the design, deployment and use of next-generation networks of unprecedented scale, heterogeneity, and complexity are not entirely clear. How are systems involving the emerging technologies (such as cable or wireless) best designed? This question pervades all levels of networking: at the network level (providing a personal network space, designing QoS for heterogeneous networks such as wired-cable and wired-wireless); at the application level (providing a thin-client view of the web for mobile units, secure electronic commerce, etc.); at the system level (providing interoperability, a homogeneous view of the system in the presence of mobility, etc.); at the protocol level (how to modify TCP for wired-wireless networks, how to multicast in wireless networks, etc.); at the link level (scheduling coding and power level for packet transmissions). New network services raise new challenges: Privacy can be threatened; small faults can cause cascading network failures with severe economic consequences; the sheer number of requests for information can slow the networks and information servers to a crawl; protocols created for previous generation networks may not be appropriate for the scale and complexity of newer technologies; achieving effective interoperability among systems remains extremely difficult; managing distributed systems with mobile software is poorly understood; multiple networks and software systems are being interconnected without a full understanding of the ramifications. This special focus seeks to take advantage of new opportunities and to solve underlying problems by addressing the theoretical foundations on which the emerging environment of commingled communication, information, and computation is based.

The special focus will concentrate on the following:

1. Algorithms to achieve cost- and service-effective use of the resources in the emerging environment in virtually all areas, including communications (mobile or stationary, network design, protocols, routing), large scale planning and scheduling, and economic decision making. This will involve expertise from fields such as optimization, approximation, probability and queuing theory, control theory and game theory.

2. Models for massive data analysis of multimedia information (e.g., data warehousing and data mining) and traffic and information management in global intelligent networks. Because existing algorithms for data analysis are unlikely to scale, new methods are needed to organize, store, and retrieve data, discover patterns, and use them for planning and decision making. This involves expertise from diverse areas including data structures, databases, data compression and coding, statistics, learning, geometry and visualization.

3. Fundamental theoretical work to address problems of reliability, security and privacy. The design of systems that maximize the potential for new technologies while protecting security and privacy requires expertise in fields such as verification, distributed computing, probability, coding theory, number theory, cryptography and security.

This special focus is intended to foster closer working relationships between the algorithms and networking technology communities. With the help of such relationships, we will pursue the development of the fundamental theory, models, and scalable algorithms that cut through a variety of application domains and will enable us to manage the present technology and design the future technology, from the physical layer to the application layer. Foundational work is required to solve existing problems and to lay the groundwork for the next generation networks technologies and applications, and our special focus is aimed at pinpointing the opportunities for theorists to make a contribution and at stimulating the research needed to take advantage of these opportunities.

Opportunities to Participate: The Special Focus will include:

If you would like to receive updates on the special focus and event announcements by email please contact the DIMACS
Publicity Coordinator and ask to be placed on the Next Generation Networks mailing list.

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Document last modified on October 30, 2000.