Dr. Vasuki Narasimha Swamy Recognized as a Marconi Society 2019 Paul Baran Young Scholar

UC Berkeley Student Designs Wireless Communications Framework to Support Internet of Things Applications

Vasuki SwamySAN FRANCISCO, CA, April 30, 2019 – The Marconi Society, dedicated to furthering scientific achievements in communications and the Internet, will honor Dr. Vasuki Narasimha Swamy, Research Scientist at Intel Labs and UC Berkeley Electrical Engineering and Computer Science PhD, with a 2019 Marconi Society Paul Baran Young Scholar Award for her work to design robust wireless protocol frameworks for ultra-reliable low-latency communications (URLLC).

Many of the most compelling Internet of Things applications, such as affordable precision agriculture, smart energy-efficient cities and advanced flexible manufacturing, depend on large-scale, highly reliable, low latency networks. Narasimha Swamy created a fundamentally different way to design these networks by identifying the worst-case scenario in each assumption in a simple wireless channel model and determining which assumptions are most critical to refine to make the network deliver the required performance.

“I like to approach practical system design problems from a theoretical perspective and use ideas from information theory, communication theory and machine learning to address challenges,” Narasimha Swamy tells us. “I was attracted to the area of URLLC for this exact reason – there are several big-picture system design problems, but also several specific problems in the lower layer of the communications stack that interact in very interesting ways.”

Narasimha Swamy’s technique addresses one of the key issues in designing communications models: we want systems that guarantee one-in-a-billion reliability but we do not trust any of our models to produce better than one-in-a-thousand.

Narasimha Swamy’s advisor and UC Berkeley Professor Anant Sahai explains her process. “To provide system-level reliability that exceeds the trust we have in our models, Vasuki did three radically different things. She adapted the modeling philosophy of nominal model + quantified-unmodeled-uncertainty from robust control to URLLC. Second, she revisited the classical Jakes’ model for multipath fading and revealed that, in the context of URLLC, the fading processes is not well-enough approximated by something quasi-static (contradicting conventional wisdom). Third, she brought simple machine learning to bear on the problem and showed that when the latencies are very short, multipath fading can be predicted well enough based on past measurements to support high system-level reliability via appropriate redundancy.”

Once Narasimha Swamy understood the heart of the network impairments, she showed exactly how repetitions in time, frequency hopping, and cooperative communication with relays need to be combined to achieve URLLC in the face of unmodeled uncertainties and fading. Because she understood what the protocols have to look like, she could also understand how to quantify the “shape of uncertainty” in wireless models to assure robustness.

Narasimha Swamy works at the intersection of technology, social impact and industry needs to create solutions that easily move beyond the lab. “Vasuki’s research has produced some very strong results, sometimes challenging the fundamentals in wireless networking,” says Ranveer Chandra, Principle Researcher at Microsoft. “She is also an out-of-the-box thinker and has created an innovative platform that is being used to enable low cost digital farming in India and other developing regions. Vasuki is one of the very few researchers who blends deep research with societal impact.”

Narasimha Swamy’s upcoming work will involve using machine learning as an integral tool for next generation wireless communications. “There are opportunities to leverage machine learning in every aspect of wireless communications,” Narasimha Swamy says. “In the cellular context alone, there are problems to be solved ranging from radio resource management to low-layer signaling. Emerging technologies such as self-driving cars and the infrastructure to enable them will need a lot of communication resources.” In fact, Berkeley Engineering is launching a new collaborative research center called ML4Wireless to continue exploring fundamental advances in this space.

Narasimha Swamy earned her Bachelor of Technology in Electrical Engineering from IIT Madras and both her MS and PhD degrees in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from UC Berkeley, where she received the prestigious Berkeley Graduate Fellowship. She is the co-founder of BiasBusters, an organization dedicated to making UC Berkeley’s Electrical Engineering and Computer Science department welcoming and inclusive to all.

“The mission of the Marconi Society is to inspire innovations in networking and communications that benefit humankind,” says Dr. Vinton Cerf, Chairman of the Marconi Society. “Vasuki’s technical excellence and creativity, along with her passion for social impact, make her the perfect Paul Baran Young Scholar.”

Narasimha Swamy says, “Being selected as a Marconi Society Young Scholar is an honor and a responsibility. I believe that my impact should be measured not only by my technical achievements, but also by the social changes that I work toward. I look forward to working with the Young Scholars to drive positive social impact.”

Young Scholar candidates are nominated by their academic advisors. Winners are selected by an international panel comprised of engineers from leading universities and companies and receive a $5000 prize plus expenses to attend the annual awards event. Two other Young Scholars were also selected this year.

All will receive their awards on May 17th in California, at the same event where cryptographers Taher Elgamal and Paul Kocher, key contributors to Internet security, will be honored with the $100,000 Marconi Prize.

About the Marconi Society

Established in 1974 by the daughter of Guglielmo Marconi, the Nobel Laureate who invented radio, the Marconi Society promotes awareness of key technology and policy issues in telecommunications and the Internet and recognizes significant individual achievements through the Marconi Prize and Young Scholar Awards. More information may be found at www.marconisociety.orgSubscribe. Follow: LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook


Hatti Hamlin

Paula Reinman