Focus Projects represent specific research, education or technology initiatives, usually carried out for a period of about three years each depending on the external goals and the nature of funding. Representative focus projects include:


Rechargeable Networks

This project examines wireless communication networks whose nodes have batteries that recharge by harvesting energy from the environment. Analytical models are applied to battery recharging scenarios in order to evaluate fundamental multiple access, broadcast and relay network models composed of rechargeable nodes. The project objective is an enhanced understanding of the analytic fundamentals of rechargeable networks in order to contribute to the development and ultimate deployment of ecologically-friendly rechargeable networks.  This project is funded by NSF and involves collaboration with Prof. Sennur Ulukus of U Maryland.

Network Coding

In the last few years the area of network coding has seen an explosive growth in research activity while being promoted as the foundation on which several applications related to the robust operation of both wired and wireless networks can be built. In spite of excellent progress in this rich area, what has been missing is a simple framework that can allow explaining the evolution of network coding in an arbitrary wireless network. For example, given an arbitrary wireless network and a network coding strategy, a question that remains to be answered is how does the rank/state of the nodes in the network evolve over time. Further, if there are changes in the underlying wireless network either through changes in the PHY layer, MAC layer or due to other factors such as mobility or traffic, how does this impact the evolution of network coding over this arbitrary network? This NSF-funded project at WINLAB aims to answer these questions and thus provide further insight into the performance and applicability of network coding in different wireless usage scenarios.

Spectrum Sensing & Signal Identification

In this project we consider a scenario where one or more sensing nodes observe a frequency band possibly used by radio transmitters forming packet based radio networks such as 802.11a/b/g, Bluetooth, Zig-bee, cordless phones, etc. The role of the sensing network is to perform analysis of the received signals and provide an appropriate characterization of the transmitters using the observed frequency band. Our main objective in this project is to develop signal processing algorithms needed to perform this task. Our approach is to develop algorithms for estimation of spectral and temporal parameters for each of the signals present. In other words, we wish to localize the packet based signals in time and frequency.

Bandwidth Exchange

This NSF-funded project develops a framework called bandwidth exchange (BE) as a means of providing flexible and incentivized spectrum allocation in cognitive radio networks. Using analytical methods, numerical software and testbed experimentations, the BE framework is being developed as a practical implementable system to provide increased data rates, better quality of service, reduced outage probability and lower transmission power/extended battery life.  The approaches taken have a strong theoretical focus and are validated for realistic scenarios using numerical simulation and real-time prototypes on the ORBIT radio grid testbed.

Inter Domain Cooperation for Dynamic Spectrum Access (SAVANT)

This is an NSF EARS (Enhanced Access to Radio Spectrum) project is aimed at achieving significant spectrum efficiency gains through inter network collaboration in radio resource management.  The proposed SAVANT (spectrum access via inter network collaboration) architecture is based on a new protocol interface for dissemination of spectrum usage information, policies and algorithms between neighboring networks to enable spectrum coexistence algorithms that reduce interference and improve spectrum packing efficiency. A new inter-domain spectrum coordination protocol (ISCP) is being developed to enable independent networks to negotiate radio resource management policies and optionally merge radio resource controllers for joint optimization. The scope of research to be conducted includes ISCP protocol design/validation, evaluation of alternative algorithms involving network collaboration, prototype implementation and performance evaluation.  The methodology for the project involves a mix of analysis, simulation and experimental prototyping.  Generalized analytical models for radio localization, propagation and interference are developed and incorporated into simulation studies of inter-network cooperation using the ISCP protocol framework.  These simulation models are expected to provide insight into the type of collaborative radio resource optimization algorithm to be used along with quantitative evaluation of ISCP overhead, complexity and performance.  The project also includes an experimental prototyping track in which emerging software-defined network (SDN) technology is used to develop a proof-of-concept system with multiple collaborating networks.

MobilityFirst: Future Internet Architecture

The MobilityFirst project is funded by the National Science Foundation's Future Internet Architecture (FIA) program started in Sept 2010.  The FIA program is aimed at design and validation of comprehensive new architectures for the next-generation Internet.  This is a three-year project (2010-13) with scope including network design, performance evaluation, large-scale prototyping and end-user application trials. This project is aimed at the design and experimental validation of a comprehensive clean-slate future Internet architecture. The proposed MobilityFirst architecture is motivated by the ongoing paradigm shift of Internet usage from today’s fixed PC/host (client)–server model to emerging mobile data services and pervasive computing applications. The major design goals of the architecture are: mobility as the norm with dynamic host and network mobility at scale; robustness with respect to intrinsic properties of the wireless medium; trustworthiness in the form of enhanced security and privacy; usability features such as support for context-aware services, evolvability, manageability and economic viability. The project’s scope includes architectural design, validation of key protocol components, testbed prototyping of the MobilityFirst architecture as a whole, and real-world protocol deployment on the GENI experimental infrastructure. The results of this project will provide architectural guidance for cellular-Internet convergence, and are expected to influence future technical standards in the networking industry. Links for more information: GSTAR storage aware routing in MobilityFirst, and MobilityFirst Proof-of-Concept Prototyping.  The MobilityFirst project website is .


WINLAB is one of the key participants in NSF’s “GENI” (Global Environment for Network Innovation) initiative which started in 2005.  The GENI project aims to develop a global-scale programmable experimental network infrastructure for research on future Internet architecture, protocols and software.  Between 2005-2007, WINLAB faculty participated in planning the GENI project and in defining wireless aspects of the research agenda (see GENI Planning Project Summary).  The GENI project is currently being led by BBN (see , and is structured as a spiral development effort with an initial focus on creating an integrated set of research testbeds unified under a common GENI architectural framework.  WINLAB’s work has focused on wireless aspects of GENI, both in terms of identifying research challenges and developing preliminary designs for programmable wireless network deployments in GENI. Specific contributions to GENI include: design and release of experimental control software (OMF; development and community release of an open WiMax base station which makes it possible to deploy celllar/4G access networks with flexible network layer protocols and cross-layer awareness; deployment of Open Flow based campus network infrastructure (in collaboration with Stanford University) and wideband layer-2 connectivity to the GENI core network. Links for summary information on GENI projects at WINLABt: ORBIT management framework (OMF) as a control architecture for wireless networks in GENI, an open/programmable WiMax base station for wide area cellular connectivity, and an OpenFlow campus network infrastructure for flexible experimentation.

ORBIT - Wireless Network Testbed

This project was started in 2003 with a major grant from the NSF Networking Research Testbeds (NRT) program. The goal was to develop a large-scale wireless network testbed to facilitate a broad range of experimental research on next-generation protocols and application concepts. The ORBIT (Open Access Research Testbed for Next-Generation Wireless Networks) system consists of an indoor "radio grid emulator" for large-scale reproducible experiments, and an outdoor "field trial system" for subsequent real-world evaluations. A 400-node radio grid emulator has been set up in a dedicated 5000 sq-ft facility located at the WINLAB Tech Center building in North Brunswick in ~2004-05.  The ORBIT radio grid (  was released for general use by the research community in Oct 2005, and has served over 500 research groups worldwide conducting a variety of experiments including mobile ad hoc networks, dynamic spectrum coordination, network virtualization, wireless security and vehicular networking.  The testbed also serves as a proof-of-concept prototyping platform for wireless aspects of the NSF GENI (global environment for network innovation) future Internet infrastructure.  An outdoor field trial network has also been set up with ORBIT nodes deployed at the WINLAB Tech Center and Busch campus.  The ORBIT testbed is currently being upgraded with the following new features: (1) software defined radios (USRP and USRP2); (2) WiMax sandbox with RF matrix and outdoor open WiMax network; (3) OpenFlow sandbox; (4) new radio nodes with faster CPU's and support for SDR functions.

Vehicular Networking

Automotive networks are of growing importance in view of their potential for improving road safety, reducing traffic delays and promoting energy conservation.  The goal is to develop networking protocols for timely, reliable and trustworthy communication in automotive ad hoc networks. Topics under consideration include medium access control protocols for vehicular communication, location-based approaches to vehicular networking, effects of high node mobility and density on vehicular safety messaging, and privacy and security.   Starting in 2008, a project aimed at applications of cognitive radio technology to vehicular networking scenarios has also been initiated.  Recent areas of investigation include location privacy, cooperative spectrum sensing, messaging in dense vehicular environments, geographic multicasting protocols, and optical V2V to supplement radio communications.  Links for summary information on recent vehicular networking projects: Privacy Algorithms for Traffic Probe Applications and User Controlled Wireless Privacy via Client-Controlled De-Identification.

A new technology project entitled "Visual MIMO" aiming to develop optical LED based communication between vehicles to supplement radio links has been initiated in 2010. The proposed visual MIMO technique uses image analysis inspired by MIMO signal processing to achieve robust signaling using generally available automotive LED's and cameras.  The project's scope includes development of a proof-of-concept prototype - an initial version of the demonstration system was shown at WINLAB in mid-2011.

The OCTOPUS System for Internet-of-Things (IoT)

Widespread adoption of ubiquitous systems is hindered by the high level of technical knowledge required to develop and deploy these systems. For sensor networks and ubiquitous computing technology to achieve widespread adoption for home, business, and industrial use, IT staff must be able to use these systems without specialized training.  This project is aimed at developing middleware abstractions and programming models for the Internet-of-Things.  The goal is to enable non-specialized developers to deploy sensors and applications without detailed knowledge of the underlying technologies and network.  The architecture also develops aggregated context information from observed low-level sensor readings, with the objective of converting raw data into knowledge.  A proof-of-concept prototoype of the OCTOPUS system has been deployed in the WINLAB Tech Center building.


Securing Wireless Applications and Networks

This project seeks to develop solutions for privacy and security in future wireless networks. Resource-efficient security protocols suitable for providing data confidentiality, authentication, and privacy in cellular (3G), ad-hoc, and WLAN networks are being investigated. Additionally, protocols are being developed to provide ad-hoc networks the capability of self-repair in the presence of faults and adversarial attacks, such as denial of service and RF jamming. Researchers are working on a project on several privacy projects including one on sensor network privacy and another on location privacy in vehicular and cellular networks.  Security architectures for emerging cognitive radio networks are also under investigation. Links for summary information on recent wireless security projects: AUSTIN: Initiative to Assure Software Radios Have Trusted Collaborationsand Fingerprints in the Ether: Exploiting the Radio Channel to Enhance Wireless Security.

Context-Aware Applications and Mobile Social Networks

WINLAB has initiated a project thrust in the area of mobile computing , particularly context-aware applications and mobile social networks. This is an inter-disciplinary area of research includes networking, computer science and social science aspects.  Ongoing areas of research include: (1) understanding privacy and location sharing issues in mobile computing and mobile social networks; (2) identifying user context and designing applications which adapt to mobile user context such as driving or walking, etc. (3) designing privacy mechanims and policies in future mobile network and Internet architectures.



Network Centric Cognitive Radio Platform (WiNC2R)

WINLAB has been active in the area of cognitive radio since the late 1990’s when an early software defined radio (SDR) prototype was prototyped and demonstrated.  More recently, starting in 2005, an effort was started with the objective of developing a "network-centric" cognitive radio platform with a tri-band agile RF front-end, fast spectrum scanning, a flexible, variable bandwidth software-defined OFDM radio, a packet engine for protocol processing and an embedded CPU for spectrum policy and control.  This cognitive radio prototype is aimed at meeting the need for higher performance and low-cost ASIC implementation that would enable wider use of flexible SDR radios.  In 2008, the project team demonstrated the “WiNC2R” cognitive radio prototype based on a novel virtual flow pipeline (VFP) architecture designed to support ~10-50 Mbps throughput, various PHY and MAC standards and fast network layer processing.  The WiNC2R project has subsequently provided the design foundation for the flexible GENI cognitive radio platform currently under development at WINLAB (see GENI project summary below).

Cognitive Radio Networks (CogNet)

This project (which is a part of NSF's "FIND" future Internet research initiative) aims to develop an architectural foundation for the integration of emerging cognitive radio networks with the global Internet. This is a joint project involving collaboration between WINLAB at Rutgers University, University of Kansas, CMU and a startup company, Blossom Research, involved in developing the software defined GNU radio platform. This architectural study aims to design the control/management and data interfaces between cognitive radio nodes in a subnetwork, and between cognitive radio subnetworks and the global Internet.  Anotherthrust is to apply these architectural results towards prototyping a comprehensive cognitive radio protocol solution (the CogNet stack) and use it for experimental evaluations on emerging cognitive radio platforms.   An implementation of the CogNet global control plane (GCP) protocol on GNU radio has been demonstrated and used to enable cognitive networking scenarios such as dynamic spectrum coordination and dynamic medium access control (MAC).  A second cognitive networking prototype using the USRP2/GNU radio has been developed to demonstrate inter-system co-existence with OFDM radios employing an AIMD backoff strategy for contention resolution.

FIND (Future Internet Design) Project Cluster

The NSF FIND project cluster (started Sept 2006) at WINLAB is aimed at identifying the impact of wireless/mobile devices on architectures and protocols for the future Internet.  A project entitled "cache and forward" (CNF) architecture is a clean-slate architecture aimed at significantly improved efficiency for mobile content delivery services, which are growing rapidly after the introduction of cellular data services.  The CNF protocol is based on hop-by-hop transport between network routers with large in-network memory which can be used to temporarily store or cache content files.  The second project called "CogNet - An Experimental Protocol Stack for Cognitive Radio Networks" is aimed at designing and prototyping a protocol stack for emerging cognitive radio networks.  The CogNet protocol being developed is based on the concept of a “global control plane” that enables cognitive radios to exchange information necessary for bootstrapping, selection of PHY and MAC parameters and routing. The third project on "Geometric Stack for Location-Aware Networking" investigates issues of performance and scale which arise in geographic routing scenarios of increasing importance in mobile and vehicular applications.

Dynamic Spectrum Algorithms

WINLAB faculty members have conducted research on dynamic spectrum since ~2001 with a project on open-access spectrum technology and policy. This effort has been followed by several algorithmic and system evaluation projects on dynamic spectrum and cognitive radio systems, supported by a mix of NSF and industry funding. Researchers in this area have been working on fundamental algorithmic issues related to dynamic use of spectrum, using game theoretic and other formulations to evaluate strategies for cooperation and coexistence.  Specific research topics covered include scheduling algorithms for links over shared spectrum, pricing and spectrum mediation, interference avoidance mechanisms and discovery protocols for cognitive radios.  A project (called “BARTER”) on incentives for collaboration in shared spectrum scenarios was started in 2008.


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