I am a Professor in the Department of
Computing and Mathematical Sciences at Caltech where
I am a member of the Rigorous System Research Group (RSRG, pronounced "resurge").
I also participate actively in two centers: the Center for the Mathematics of Information (CMI), which focuses on the intersection of Applied Mathematics and Computer Science, and the Social and Information Sciences Laboratory (SISL, pronounced "sizzle"), which focuses on the intersection of Economics and Computer Science.
My research focuses on using mathematical models to provide insight into the design of computer systems. I have two main halves to my work: one which focuses on scheduling and resource allocation in computer systems and one which focuses on economic issues in communication and electricity networks.
Broadly, my particular research focus can be described as: "Rigorous system design." Some examples of topics that I'm focusing on these days are:
Algorithms for Sustainable ITEveryone has heard the statistics about how much of an energy hog IT has become: The emissions of a server are nearly that of a car! The electricity usage of data centers is growing 12 times faster than that of the US as a whole! While the last decade has led to significant improvements in energy-efficiency across IT, there is still a long ways to go to be truly sustainable. You can find out more at the RSRG Sustainable IT group page and the Resnick Institute website. You can also look at my papers in this area.
Markets for the Smart GridOver the coming decade, the electricity network will undergo a complete architectural transformation, similar to what has happened to the communication network over the last decades. However, there are huge engineering and economic challenges in making this transformation possible. In fact, unlike in the case of communication networks, the economic market structure and engineering architecture are inherently intertwined in the electricity grid, which necessitates a new architectural theory for guiding this transformation. You can find out more at the RSRG Smart Grid group page and the Resnick Institute website. You can also look at my papers in this area.
Network economicsThese days it is almost impossible to study communication networks without considering economic incentives. From net neutrality, to the design of P2P systems, to hot potato routing, understanding the economic incentives in networks has become crucial. However, our understanding the interaction of economics and computer systems is still in its infancy. You can find out more at the RSRG Network Economics group page and the SISL initiative website. You can also look at my papers in this area.
Heavy tailsHeavy-tailed distributions come up across a wide range of areas and are always met with confusion and surprise. They are fundamentally different beasts from light-tailed distributions like the Gaussian that are familiar to all. For example, "bad" events in heavy-tailed workloads are most often the result of "catastrophes", e.g., one enormous job; while "bad" events in light-tailed workloads are most often the result of "conspiracies", e.g., the combination of many small jobs. These "catastrophe" and "conspiracy" principles guide the design of schedulers and controllers in each setting. However, ideally one would like to be able to design schedulers/controllers to be robust, i.e., optimal in both heavy and light tailed settings. But, at this point, we still understand very little about how to provide such robustness. For more details you can check out my papers in this area.
Fairness and schedulingModern designs often improve user response times by giving priority to small job sizes. But, this leads to worries about whether large job sizes receive fair performance. So, we need to ask: How much starvation/unfairness is caused to large jobs by prioritizing small jobs? For more details you can check out my papers in this area.
For more information about these and other current projects see my publications.