Collaborators Awarded NSF Grant for More Efficient Wireless Networks

Researchers aim to end the scarcity of wireless spectrum with dynamic and efficient access.

Hoboken, NJ, September 11, 2013 --( Dr. Yingying Chen and Dr. Yi Guo of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Stevens Institute of Technology have been awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to investigate consensus-based cooperative spectrum sensing for efficient allocation of wireless spectrum. The collaborators are leveraging technology called cognitive radio that scans wireless spectrum dynamically for the clearest bands and switches seamlessly, establishing intelligent and efficient utilization of radio spectrum while deterring abuse and malicious attacks.

The volume of radio communications traveling over the air has seen accelerated growth in recent years in order to accommodate traditional and emergent technologies. With billions and perhaps trillions of dollars in industry in the form of mobile devices, television, radio, and GPS that now depend on access to dedicated radio frequency, the wireless spectrum has become an increasingly scarce and precious resource. Though the vast majority of the spectrum has now been licensed by the Federal Communications Commission for a particular use, the reality is that much of the spectrum is not being used at any given time.

“Experts and leaders in industry, government and academia have marked the expansion and more effective allotment of wireless spectrum as national priorities,” says Dr. Michael Bruno, Dean of the Charles V. Schaefer, Jr. School of Engineering and Science. “Dr. Chen and Dr. Guo’s research will aid in efforts to more efficiently utilize the wireless spectrum which is a critical billion-dollar resource for industry and technologies that are deeply embedded in modern society.”

Cognitive radio networks (CRNs) have emerged as a promising technology to mitigate the increasing spectrum-scarcity problem. CRNs use dynamic spectrum access to allow “secondary users” to operate on a portion of spectrum that has been reserved by “primary users” for another use, but is not being utilized at that time.

Future CRNs will consist of heterogeneous devices such as smartphones, tablets and laptops moving continually in a geographic area. In order to maintain efficiency in future radio systems, CRNs need accurate and robust sensors that seek out vacant spectrum, allowing nodes to dynamically and seamlessly switch the channel of transmission. Additionally, CRNs need effective authentication to identify unauthorized spectrum usage.

Dr. Chen and Dr. Guo aim to utilize consensus-based cooperation featuring self-organizable and scalable network structure to capture the swarming behaviors of spectrum users and provide cooperative spectrum sensing in a fully distributed manner. By using a combination of control theory and machine learning techniques, the project designs secure weighted average consensus for cooperative spectrum sensing. It not only captures the swarming behaviors in CRNs with heterogeneous devices, but takes into account practical channel conditions. The collaborators are using dynamic signal strength mapping to develop robust localization approaches with the ability to localize multiple malicious users who might be occupying spectrum without authorization, thus preventing access by legitimate users. The new techniques will be validated using a testbed which is to be deployed on campus, enabling system demonstrations to industrial collaborators such as AT&T Labs.

According to Dr. Yu-Dong Yao, Director of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, “This project capitalizes on multi-disciplinary knowledge in control systems and machine learning techniques to revolutionize spectrum efficiency in cognitive radio networks, potentially alleviating the crowdedness of spectrum occupancy and supporting the co-existence of heterogeneous devices.”

Dr. Chen and Dr. Guo have collaborated for many years, supervising students and collaborating on multiple publications. “This grant is the product of active and sustained collaboration, and it is strongly informed by our respective expertise,” says Dr. Chen.

About Electrical and Computer Engineering

Stevens Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering is home to a distinguished faculty conducting research on cutting edge hardware and software, supporting new horizons in wireless and multimedia networking, cognitive radio, and signal processing. Complementary instructional and hands-on lab facilities facilitate thorough theoretical and applied learning experiences at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Funded research on campus and active partnerships between departments and regional institutions provide students with rich opportunities to explore problems on the horizon in electronic and data technologies.

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Stevens Institute of Technology
Christine del Rosario