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Global MANIACs compete in futuristic wireless network

With inspiration ranging from information theory to mongoose behavior, university teams from seven countries and three continents tested network cooperation — and noncooperation — strategies in March at a competition organized by a group from ECE.

MANIAC contestants (Photo by Michael Montgomery)

University teams from around the world gathered in Galveston, Texas in March for the MANIAC Challenge 2009. Shown here, the contestants are heading out to create an ad hoc wireless network through which each team will send and receive data traffic. (Photo by Michael Montgomery)

The MANIAC Challenge 2009 (Mobile Ad-hoc Networking Interoperability And Cooperation) investigates cooperation and selfishness in ad hoc networks. These networks of the future are expected to be established anywhere on demand and could involve thousands of phones, radios, and other mobile devices.

The competition was held in Galveston, Texas, in conjunction with the IEEE PerCom conference. It is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to better understand cooperation and interoperability in ad hoc networks – and to encourage student interest in solving the complex issues involved.

Each student team participates in the competition with two laptops, which act as nodes in the network. Teams program their participation strategies, deciding when to forward data packets for others and when to seek more favorable routes that avoid selfish nodes.

Heiko Will

Heiko Will, from the Freie Universitaet Berlin tries to get a stronger wireless signal to improve his data throughput during the MANIAC Challenge competition. His team won the Performance Award.

The team from the Freie Universitaet Berlin, Germany won the Performance Award and received a set of pervasive computing sensor platforms donated by Sentilla Corporation. Marcello Caleffi, from the Universita di Napoli Federico II, Italy, sought inspiration in information theory to design his strategy, which applies concepts of diversity and mutual information to the problem of whether and when to forward packets for one’s neighbors. His strategy won the Design Award.

Marcello Caleffi, from the Universita di Napoli Federico II, Italy, sought inspiration in information theory to design his strategy, which applies concepts of diversity and mutual information to the problem of whether and when to forward packets for one’s neighbors. His strategy won the Design Award.

The team from the Arab Academy of Science and Technology in Egypt was inspired by the behavior of the mongoose to design their strategy. Just as a mongoose will act as a sentinel, “climbing to a vantage point and scanning to surrounding area,” their strategy used a node that scanned neighbors to assess who was dropping packets.

The youngest team to compete in MANIAC came from the University of Cyprus. The team was composed of three third‐year undergraduates, who said that the experience allowed them to better understand how a real wireless network works.

Other teams came from the Charles University of Prague, Czech Republic; the Technical University of Kosice, Slovakia; the University of North Carolina at Charlotte; the University of Detroit Mercy; and Virginia Tech.

The MANIAC Challenge 2009 was organized by Luiz DaSilva and Allen MacKenzie. They were joined by Michael Thompson (Ph.D. 2007), an assistant professor at Bucknell University. Student travel grants were provided by the College of Engineering.

For more information, visit www.maniacchallenge.org.