Four Institute Faculty Win Google Research Awards

Google’s mission is to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” To help succeed in this mission, Google maintains strong ties with academic institutions that are doing world-class research. As one component, Google has developed the Research Awards program to provide funding support to researchers at these institutions.

Recently, three professors in the computing Solutions Group of the Institute for Energy Efficiency received Google Awards for their world-class research and education projects. One of these projects focuses on wireless networks and cognitive radio, the second projects aims to build an engine for scalable web applications, and the third project addresses the problem of energy-efficient computing.

The first project, lead by Prof. Elizabeth Belding, is titled “Online Spectrum Auction Systems.” Although cognitive radios and opportunistic unlicensed spectrum access have become popular research topics of late, few, if any, of the proposed solutions have been implemented and tested in practice. The time is right for the evolution from analytical analysis and simulation to implementation to occur, due to both the recent availability of suitable hardware platforms, as well as the maturation of spectrum access and auction algorithms. To this end, the researchers propose to build a prototype of an operational online spectrum auction system, based on previously published auction algorithms. In so doing, they will address many of the implicit or explicit assumptions and simplifications made in the original system design, and solve the real-world problems surrounding the design and implementation of such a system, thereby demonstrating its viability.

The second project is called “GRAEScale: The Google Research AppEngine for Development and Deployment of More Diverse and Scalable Web Applications.” It is lead by Prof. Chandra Krintz and Prof. Rich Wolski. The Google AppEngine (GAE) has lead the way in simplifying the development of web applications and exposing large-scale compute resources to these applications transparently. The goal of the work in this project is to increase the potential of such an approach. To this end, the researchers propose GRAEScale, a set of novel extensions to GAE that facilitate development of a greater diversity of scalable GAE applications, and that provide a framework for researchers, developers, and students to investigate new technologies and techniques for scalable web services for cloud computing. As part of the work, GRAEScale will be integrated with Eucalyptus, an extensible, open-source cloud software architecture that was previously developed by the group at UCSB. An initial prototype of this integration effort, which is called AppScale, can already be checked out here.

The third project, lead by Prof. Fred Chong, is titled “An Innovative Multi-disciplinary Graduate Course in Energy-Efficient Computing.” As computing and data storage increasingly become a globally-available, public utility, the proliferation of large numbers of servers and massive data centers will have a substantial energy footprint in our future. Interestingly, energy expenditures are already becoming more significant than the cost of machines. This suggests that the US will have a critical need for scientists trained to reason about energy-efficient computing. To tackle this challenge, the proposed project takes a first step by creating a graduate course in energy-efficient computing. To this end, the newly-formed UCSB Institute for Energy Efficiency will be leveraged, helping to bring together knowledge from Computer Science, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management.

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