Lee Center for Advanced Networking

Lee Center member Jehoshua Bruck, Gordon and Betty Moore Professor of Computation and Neural Systems and Electrical Engineering at Caltech works on algorithms and network architecture for communication networks. His goal is to create reliable and scalable distributed computing, communications, and storage systems.

Bruck envisions a global information utility consisting of both wired and wireless technology consisting of “microcells” that provide coverage within a given area. Microcells can be either “fixed” or “dynamic.” A fixed microcell is a wireless network within, say, a home or a building. But people using wireless technology, by definition, move around. A dynamic cell would constantly expand or shrink depending on the number of users within it. This is necessary, says Bruck, “because if you have cells that are too large, it can lead to an inefficient use of bandwidth,” and bandwidth still remains a major problem in wireless communication.

Bruck and his graduate students have already worked out the algorithms that can describe the appropriate degree of coverage and overlap. Now they are looking ahead to the next problem in communication networking. Once the bandwidth problem is solved, he says, the bottleneck will shift to a “server issue,” the demand for information when the user wants it “Right now we all want our information files to be right next to us, in our laptop. But it’s not clear that this is the most reliable way to manage data,” says Bruck.

Currently, data is static, remaining in one person’s hard drive or on a single server. In the future, says Bruck, information will move closer to where the demand is, creating “dynamic” or “mobile” storage. “What we envision is that people will carry some type of personal information device, probably the next generation cell phone, and it will provide both the connectivity and the access to information,” says Bruck. “So what you’ll carry around will just be an interface device. You’ll store your files someplace, and when you travel, the system will know you are there, and ensure that your personal information is there so you can access it.”