CAREER Grant Furthers Network Coding Research

By Anna Lynn Spitzer

Irvine, Calif., Feb. 07, 2008 -- Athina Markopoulou, UCI assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science, is the newest Calit2 academic affiliate to receive the prestigious CAREER award from the National Science Foundation.


Gian Mario Maggio
The five-year, $450,000 grant will further Markopoulou’s research in network coding for the Internet. She and her five graduate students are working on a way to alter the current communications network packet-switching paradigm that governs information delivery. Instead of simply forwarding data packets, network coding creates intermediate nodes that can process and re-combine multiple incoming packets into one or more outgoing packets. This idea can increase throughput and make distributed scheduling easier in several contexts. Markopoulou and her group are exploring ways to apply this idea to the areas of network security and multimedia delivery.
The Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award is one of the National Science Foundation's most respected grants. The program supports early career-development activities of teacher-scholars who effectively integrate research and education into their organizations.
Markopoulou is delighted to have received the honor. “It’s more than just a standard grant; the recognition that goes with it is important, too,” she says. “I’m pleased to have the money to continue my research, but also the approval from the NSF that the project is going in the right direction.”
She says network coding is a relatively new field and most of the research so far has focused more on theoretical aspects and less on applications. Her research seeks to determine what practical functions are feasible with network coding and how the new approach will ultimately affect the Internet.
“Routers today just do packet switching,” she explains. “I am interested in finding practical applications that can benefit from combining the packets prior to delivery. I am also interested in understanding the cost and limitations of implementing such schemes in practice. ”