IEE/CE Seminar: Randy Katz

Mar 8, 2010  |  3:00pm | ESB 1001
Randy Katz
Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science University of California Berkeley

In this talk, we describe LoCal, a research project at Berkeley that applies the lessons of the Internet, for building distributed and robust communications infrastructures, to a radical new architecture for energy generation, distribution and sharing. We introduce the concept of packetized energy, stored and forwarded to where it is locally needed, exploiting technology for more efficient energy storage. Like the Internet, quality is achieved end-to-end via protocols over a best-effort, resilient and scalable infrastructure. Distributed management and storage enables dramatic reductions in peak-to-average energy consumption, influencing infrastructure provisioning and investment, and enabling a virtuous cycle of power-limited design. Our architectural building block, intelligent power switching, permits use of diverse, even non-traditional energy storage. Rather than replacing the grid, we overlay it, providing independence from existing generation and transmission systems. Our approach is suited to environments where it is desirable to add incremental generation and distribution, where a centralized infrastructure is prohibitively expensive to deploy as in third world or remote regions (e.g., military or humanitarian operations), or where continued operation in the face of natural disasters is highly desirable (e.g., post-Katrina or post-earthquake disruption of the wide-area energy grid). Management of local demand is also important to dynamically reduce load to remain independent of the grid for as long as possible.


Randy Howard Katz received his undergraduate degree from Cornell University, and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of California, Berkeley. He joined the Berkeley faculty in 1983, where since 1996 he has been the United Microelectronics Corporation Distinguished Professor in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. He is a Fellow of the ACM and the IEEE, and a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2007, he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Helsinki. He has published over 250 refereed technical papers, book chapters, and books. His textbook, Contemporary Logic Design, has sold over 100,000 copies in two editions, and has been used at over 200 colleges and universities. He has supervised 49 M.S. theses and 39 Ph.D. dissertations (including one ACM Dissertation Award winner and ten women). His recognitions include thirteen best paper awards (including one "test of time" paper award and one selected for a 50 year retrospective on IEEE Communications publications), three best presentation awards, the Outstanding Alumni Award of the Computer Science Division, the CRA Outstanding Service Award, the Berkeley Distinguished Teaching Award, the CS Division's Diane S. McEntyre Award for Excellence in Teaching, the Air Force Exceptional Civilian Service Decoration, the IEEE Reynolds Johnson Information Storage Award, the ASEE Frederic E. Terman Award, the IEEE James H. Mulligan Jr. Education Medal, the ACM Karl V. Karlstrom Outstanding Educator Award, and the ACM Sigmobile Outstanding Contributor Award.

In the late 1980s, with colleagues at Berkeley, he developed Redundant Arrays of Inexpensive Disks (RAID), a $15 billion per year industry sector. While on leave for government service in 1993-1994, he established and connected the White House to the Internet. His BARWAN Project of the mid-1990s introduced vertical handoffs and efficient transport protocols for mobile wireless networks. His current research interests are the architecture of Internet Datacenters, particularly frameworks for datacenter-scale instrumentation and resource management. With David Culler and Seth Sanders, he has started a new research project on Smart Energy Networks, called LoCal. Prior research interests have included: database management, VLSI CAD, high performance multiprocessor (Snoop cache coherency protocols) and storage (RAID) architectures, transport (Snoop TCP) and mobility protocols spanning heterogeneous wireless networks, and converged data and telephony network and service architectures.

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