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 three centers: the Center for the Mathematics of Information (CMI), which focuses on the intersection of Applied Mathematics and Computer Science; the Social and Information Sciences Laboratory (SISL, pronounced "sizzle"), which focuses on the intersection of Economics and Computer Science and is part of the Linde Institute of Economic and Management Sciences; and the Resnick Sustainability Institute, which is an interdisciplinary initiative at Caltech connecting researchers focused on energy related issues from all across the campus. I also maintain an academic blog, titled Rigor + Relevance.
My research focuses on three seemingly distinct areas: cloud computing, network economics, and power systems. Though diverse, the areas are all essential to my broader research goal: easing the incorporation of renewable energy into IT and, more generally, into the electricity grid. Broadly, my particular research style can be described as: "Rigorous system design." I use mathematical models to provide insight into the design of computer systems, markets, and power systems by applying techniques from algorithms, operations research, economics, and control. 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 take a look at my papers in this area, a video of a recent talk on this topic I gave in the Distinguished Lecture Series at UC San Diego, and a recent profile of the work in the ENG magazine at Caltech.
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 and slides from a recent talk on this topic given as part of the Grid 2020 series at the Resnick Institute.
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 take a look at my papers in this area and a video of a recent talk on this topic from an invited lecture at the Banff International Research Station (BIRS).
Heavy tailsHeavy-tails are a continual source of excitement and confusion across disciplines as they are repeatedly "discovered" in new contexts. This is especially true within computer systems, where heavy-tails seemingly pop up everywhere -- from degree distributions in the internet and social networks to file sizes and interarrival times of workloads. However, despite nearly a decade of work on heavy-tails they are still treated as mysterious, surprising, and even controversial. We are in the process of writing a new book on the topic that will (hopefully) highlight that heavy-tailed distributions need not be mysterious and should not be surprising or controversial. For details about our research on this topic you can check out my papers in this area and slides from a recent tutorial on the topic at the ACM Sigmetrics conference.
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 an introduction to the topic you can check out my PhD thesis, and for more details you can read my papers in this area.
For more information about these and other current projects see my publications.