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Ask and Academic: Ciprian Dobre
We sit down with Ciprian Dobre, author of Pervasive Computing, to discuss mobile and wireless technology in this Q&A.
- What is your particular area of expertise?
Wireless and mobile technologies to support context-driven socially-aware mobile and pervasive systems
- How would you explain your current work to a stranger on a bus?
Traditionally, application development follows a stand-alone approach, meaning an Android application is designed and developed to run on the mobile device, with at-most relying on some data to reside somewhere in a back-end Cloud Data Center. I tried to re-think of this model: what if devices could work together, not necessary mediated by the Cloud? This is possible through novel ad-hoc communication paradigms served by wireless technologies. So, instead of having all smartphones in a close-proximity download the same content individually, why not make one device download the content and share it with all others? Or, instead of relying on the broadband infrastructure, why not discover patterns and information through direct short-range wireless communication. This is what motivates my research, with applications in fields ranging from Smart Cities, to Internet-of-Things and Fog Computing, to Enhanced Living Environments.
- Where do you carry out most of your work?
Laboratory settings; but applications on mobility are done in various real-world (mostly urban) settings.
- What first inspired you to study pervasive and distributed systems?
I started as a young researcher working on two “hot” projects in the early days of large-scale distributed systems: MonALISA and MONARC 2. These were the days when the physics experiments at CERN, in Switzerland, introduced new computation challenges: how to process the large amounts of data generated by the Large Hadron Collider? New paradigms, such as Grids, were born to support exactly such requirements – for the first time, processing was done at a geographically-distributed scale. And MonALISA, project coordinated by Caltech and CERN, was the tool to monitoring such a large-scale distributed system. MONARC was the tool to evaluate, in simulation, hypothetical what-if conditions for such a large-scale distributed system. And this kind of research hooked-me. From there forward, it was just a smooth ride of applying my expertise to real-challenging topics, advancing Science…
- What’s the most exciting part of your job?
To be able to think of solutions that find their ways into real-world applications. It’s really exciting to be able to see your work in production. For example, I’m coordinating a nationally-funded project, MobiWay, where the goal is to build a hub to collect and use mobility-data about city traffic. Today, unless you have a partnership with Google, researchers find it hard to get enough data to extract information on how to optimize traffic – and we all see how congested in traffic cities become. So, we are among the first to come up with this open-source concept to allow traffic-related entities (companies owning a car fleet, drivers wanting to get the most out of their traffic patterns) to put together data, to advance the research in the traffic optimization field. We are among the first to construct novel wireless ad-hoc networks (people-centric networks) where mobility is not regarded as an exception (as it happens today with current communication technology), but actually actively an active part of communication. And many others….
- What keeps you awake at night?
I always try to think outside-of-the-box, to think of solutions using technologies not available today. We are not doing research necessarily for solving problems of today, this is what companies do. The idea is to try to think ahead, what will work tomorrow…
- What false preconceptions do people have about your job?
That the research my students and I do sometimes is too basic and has no direct applications. Nothing could be further from the truth….
- What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned this week?
When you monitor people by inspecting their wireless-communication patterns, privacy becomes an important issue. So we looked at new ways to do passive monitoring, with privacy considerations. Which is not trivial by far….
- What do you think will be the next big discovery or development in your field?
Internet of Things is the next big thing, no doubts about it. How to get many tiny devices to work together is a problem that many scientists are trying to solve, from getting the communication support, to resource management, to processing and make them proactively support people in their everyday activities. For example, in the near future I will most likely not need to worry about my groceries; I will just select a menu, my fridge will extract the recipes, communicate with the grocery store and electronically purchase the missing ingredients. The cars will self-drive, and for that sensors in the road will be able to synchronize with the sensors inside my car.
- How have you used books for your own professional research and how it influenced your work, research or thinking, or help you solve a problem in your field? What outcome did it lead to?
Reading and studying some of the great reference books in my field have certainly educated me and given me greater knowledge and understanding. But, they have inspired me too. To read a book that is just a consummate source of information and just be in awe of what the author(s) has done to bring this together and put it into a useful package has motivated me to try and learn more and emulate some of these people I consider inspirational leaders.
Professor Dobre’s latest books are available now on the Elsevier store:
- Introduces readers to technologies supporting the development of Ambient Assisted Living applications
- Explains state-of-the-art technological solutions for the main issues regarding AAL and Enhanced Living Environments
- Reports the development process of scientific and commercial applications and platforms that support AAL and ELE
- Identifies the advanced solutions in the context of Enhanced Living Environments
- Offers a coherent and realistic image of today’s architectures, techniques, protocols, components, orchestration, choreography, and development related to pervasive computing
- Explains the state-of-the-art technological solutions necessary for the development of next-generation pervasive data systems, including: components for intelligently collecting data, resource and data management issues, fault tolerance, data security, monitoring and controlling big data, and applications for pervasive context-aware processing
- Presents the benefits of pervasive computing, and the development process of scientific and commercial applications and platforms to support them in this field
- Provides numerous illustrative examples and follows both theoretical and practical results to serve as a platform for the dissemination of research advances in the pervasive computing area
Want your own copy? Save up to 30%, enter STC215 at the checkout when you order on the Elsevier store.
Computing functionality is ubiquitous. Today this logic is built into almost any machine you can think of, from home electronics and appliances to motor vehicles, and it governs the infrastructures we depend on daily — telecommunication, public utilities, transportation. Maintaining it all and driving it forward are professionals and researchers in computer science, across disciplines including:
- Computer Architecture and Computer Organization and Design
- Data Management, Big Data, Data Warehousing, Data Mining, and Business Intelligence (BI)
- Human Computer Interaction (HCI), User Experience (UX), User Interface (UI), Interaction Design and Usability
- Artificial intelligence (AI)