Caching in context | 2015 ECE Annual Report | ECE | Virginia Tech


Caching in context | 2015 ECE Annual Report

Walid Saad

Walid Saad is using small base stations to provide wireless services to areas without wasting energy.

In addition to making networks robust, efficient, and secure, Walid Saad is using fundamental techniques from game theory and machine learning to use our resources—both energy and wireless spectrum—more efficiently.

Although we want enough wireless base stations for fast data access, we are wasting energy if we have more base stations operating than we need, explains Saad. For example, during a football game, there is much demand for wireless access in a stadium. At other times, there is almost none. Ideally, the base stations serving the stadium should be able to sense the demand and turn on only when needed.

Using the same kinds of models that he uses for sending out drones to keep communications stable after an emergency, Saad is optimizing the wireless small cell networks serving locations like Lane Stadium for everyday use.

Turning his mind towards efficient use of the radio spectrum, Saad also believes that smarter networks can save bandwidth and increase the data speeds. “Networks can learn from your behavior,” he says. “If a network is smart enough, it can solve problems adaptively, by itself.” By making networks aware of your location, habits, and device type, Saad plans to achieve faster data using less bandwidth.

You check the weather and the news when you get to the office every morning at 8:00. Your coworker checks the weather and sports scores when she comes in at 8:30. Once your network knows these habits, says Saad, it can cache the weather data instead of resending the data each time. “If your network can predict your patterns, it can cache your data and respond quickly,” he says.

Saad joined ECE in August 2014. He earned his Ph.D. at the University of Oslo in Norway, and was a postdoctoral research associate at Princeton University. He has authored more than 100 peer-reviewed conference and journal articles, and is co-author of the book “Game Theory in Wireless and Communication Networks: Theory, Models, and Applications,” published in 2012. Saad comes to Virginia Tech from the University of Miami, where he earned a National Science Foundation CAREER award for his collaborative research project, Towards Context-Aware, Self-Organizing Wireless Small Cell Networks.

When more than our data is at risk

ECE researchers are working to increase safety while reducing risk from attacks in our connected world.

A predictive network is an efficient network

Context-aware networks must know the users’ circumstance to best serve them.

“Why should I give you a high data rate on a phone that you can’t use” asks Saad.

“These networks already know your location and device.” Soon, they might use this information.