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Prof Researches Ways to Increase Efficiency of Wireless Networks

$140K Grant from NSF Funds Project

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The increasing popularity of smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices requires faster, more efficient wireless networks.

By Edwin L. Aguirre

Wireless networks — computer systems that use radio waves instead of cables to connect different mobile devices in various locations — are now an integral part of modern life. Wi-Fi networks can be found everywhere, in homes, offices, schools, libraries, coffee shops, hotels, hospitals and airports to name a few.

To meet the dramatic growth in network traffic, researchers are looking for ways to increase the “spectrum efficiency” of wireless networks.

“Spectrum efficiency refers to the information rate that can be transmitted over a given bandwidth in a specific communication system,” explains Prof. Jie Wang, chair of the Computer Science Department. “It is a measure of how efficiently a limited frequency spectrum is used.” 

Wang is collaborating with researchers from the University of Texas, Arlington, and George Washington University to develop innovative waveform designs to improve spectrum efficiency. The project is funded with a three-year $140,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

“In wireless communication, the information is carried by the waveform, or signal form, within certain bandwidths,” says Wang, who is the principal investigator for the NSF project. “What we are trying to do is figure out ways to improve the accuracy of transmitting information within current bandwidths so we can transform more information. By designing a new kind of waveform, we can maximize the information capacity of existing networks.”

Judicious use of properly designed waveforms, he notes, coupled with advanced receiver strategies, is fundamental to fully utilizing the capacity of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Adds Wang: “Our project seeks to help reach the nation’s broadband goals and the larger objective of alleviating growing pressure on limited spectrum resources.”