Network World is out with a list of the 25 “coolest” computer networking research projects:
University labs, fueled with millions of dollars in funding and some of the biggest brains around, are bursting with new research into computer and networking technologies. Wireless networks, computer security and a general focus on shrinking things and making them faster are among the hottest areas, with some advances already making their way into the market.
Among the projects highlighted (following the link):
This free website, Duolingo, from a pair of Carnegie Mellon University computer scientists serves double duty: It helps people learn new languages while also translating the text on Web pages into different languages.
CMU’s Luis von Ahn and Severin Hacker have attracted more than 100,000 people in a beta test of the system, which initially offered free language lessons in English, Spanish, French and German, with the computer offering advice and guidance on unknown words. Using the system could go a long way toward translating the Web, many of whose pages are unreadable by those whose language skills are narrow.
Von Ahn is a veteran of such crowdsourcing technologies, having created online reCAPTCHA puzzles to cut down on spam while simultaneously digitizing old books and periodicals. Von Ahn’s spinoff company, reCAPTCHA, was acquired by Google in 2009. Duolingo, spun off in November to offer commercial and free translation services, received $3.3 million in funding from Union Square Ventures, actor Ashton Kutcher and others.
Princeton University computer science researchers envision an Internet that is more flexible for data center operators and more useful to mobile users. Princeton’s open source Serval system is what Assistant Professor of Computer Science Michael Freedman calls a Service Access Layer that sits between the IP Network Layer (Layer 3) and Transport Layer (Layer 4), where it can work with unmodified network devices. Serval’s purpose is to make Web services such as Gmail and Facebook more easily accessible, regardless of where an end user is, via a services naming scheme that augments what the researchers call an IP address set-up “designed for communication between fixed hosts with topology-dependent addresses.” Data center operators could benefit by running Web servers in virtual machines across the cloud and rely less on traditional load balancers.
Serval, which Freedman describes as a “replacement” technology, will likely have its first production applications in service-provider networks. “Its largest benefits come from more dynamic settings, so its features most clearly benefit the cloud and mobile spaces,” he says.
If any of this sounds similar to software-defined networking (SDN), there are in fact connections. Freedman worked on an SDN/OpenFlow project at Stanford University called Ethane that was spun out into a startup called Nicira for which VMware recently plunked down $1.26 billion.
University of Tulsa engineers want to slow everything down, for just a few milliseconds, to help network administrations avoid cyberattacks.
By slowing traffic, the researchers figure more malware can be detected and then headed off via an algorithm that signals at hyperspeed to set up defenses — though researcher Sujeet Shenoi told the publication New Scientist [subscription required] that it might not be cheap to set up such a defense system, between the caching system and reserved data pipes needed to support the signals.
University of Washington researchers have created a card game called Control-Alt-Hack that’s designed to introduce computer science students to security topics.
The game, funded in part by Intel Labs and the National Science Foundation, made its debut at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas over the summer. The tabletop game involves three to six players working for an outfit dubbed Hackers, Inc., that conducts security audits and consulting, and players are issued challenges, such as hacking a hotel mini bar payment system or wireless medical implant, or converting a robotic vacuum cleaner into a toy. The game features cards (including descriptions of well-rounded hackers who rock climb, ride motorcycles and do more than sit at their computers), dice, mission cards, “hacker cred tokens” and other pieces, and is designed for players ages 14 and up. It takes about an hour to play a game. No computer security degree needed.
“We went out of our way to incorporate humor,” said co-creator Tamara Denning, a UW doctoral student in computer science and engineering, referring to the hacker descriptions and challenges on the cards. “We wanted it to be based in reality, but more importantly we want it to be fun for the players.”
Check out the full list here.
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(Contributed by Erwin Gianchandani, CCC Director)