21 Nov Two UW-Madison professors named to National LambdaRail Networking Research Council
Two UW-Madison computer science professors, Paul Barford and Lawrence Landweber, have been named to the National LambdaRail’s Networking Researching Council (NNRC), which will make key policy decisions regarding the high-speed fiber optic network’s research goals.
The National LambdaRail (NLR) project is comprised of educational groups across the country, which over the past three years have pooled their resources on buying and using fiber-optic infrastructure left over from the late 1990’s Internet bubble. The group originated from educational institutions in California, including the California Institute of Technology, the University of Southern California, Stanford University, and the state K-12 school system.
The group was assisted by Cisco Systems, which has committed $25 million in networking infrastructure and resources, a quarter of NLR’s total resources.
“Major research—big science—is not done just within one laboratory on one university,” said NLR President Tom West, explaining the worldwide scale of research in fields such as astronomy, physics and bio-informatics. “This infrastructure capability is one asset, one resource designed to help connect those individuals in those laboratories so they can team to do work.”
The network has an overall capacity for up to 40 network connections simultaneously with bandwidth of 10 gigabits each. One early policy decision is that half of its resources will be dedicated to network research, which West said would contribute to the engineering of better systems for academic institutions and businesses over the coming years.
“One of the concerns of the computer science folks and network research folks is that the technology used today for the Internet won’t scale to the future,” West said. “We want this resource to be available to those folks to be their laboratory.”
Barford serves as a board member and NNRC member, helping to make decisions over how the infrastructure will be built and further set up, who will use it and how it grows. Barford describes his role as making sure proper decisions are made about a new technology, and to help bring it into wider use within the next ten years so that high-speed infrastructure and its greater media capabilities will be available without widespread problems like spam and security breaches.
“Frankly, many of the most exciting innovations in technology and in the Internet come from the 18-year old who is brilliant and comes up with some great new idea,” Barford said. “And what we want to be sure of is that we have an infrastructure that can inspire the kind of innovation that’s driven technology over the last 30 years.”
Landweber, a professor emeritus of computer sciences at UW-Madison, will act as a liaison between NLR and the Internet 2 project, of which he is a board member and chair of the research committee. He described his role with NLR as largely hands-off, instead facilitating communication and cooperation between the project and Internet 2 regarding their mutual goals of network research.