ECE: Electrical & Computer Engineering
ECE News

Improving Wireless Networks

Hanif Sherali, Thomas Hou, and Scott Midkiff.

From left: Hanif Sherali, Thomas Hou, and Scott Midkiff.

“A critical factor affecting the wide-scale deployment of wireless ad hoc networks is network capacity,” asserted Thomas Hou, associate professor of ECE.

A key technology to increase the capacity of wireless networks is called multiple-input-multiple-out (MIMO) — the use of multiple antennas at both the transmission and the receiving ends. The objective is to improve communication performance.

“Unfortunately, existing models for this technology are either too mathematically complex to be used or too simple to be accurate,” Hou said. “As a result, research progress on multi-hop multiple-in-multiple-out ad hoc networks remains stagnant despite rapid advancements in this research at the physical layer.”

Hou, who received an Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award in 2003 and a National Science Foundation CAREER Award in 2004 for his research on optimizations and algorithm design for wireless ad hoc and sensor networks, developed a few novel ideas on how to increase the capacity for wireless networks.

In collaboration with Scott Midkiff and Hanif Sherali of Industrial and Systems Engineering, Hou has now received a little over $1 million from the National Science Foundation for two projects on wireless network research.

“We expect our research to be potentially transformative. With one of the two projects, we believe our work will serve a critical need in advancing multi-hop multiple-in-multiple-out network research by exploring new models beneath the network layer that are both tractable and accurate.”

With the second project, they will be exploring cooperative communications where each node is only equipped with a single antenna and spatial diversity is achieved by exploiting the antennas on other nodes in a network. They will focus on designing network level algorithms based on cooperative relaying that can maximize throughput.

--Lynn Nystrom