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Guest Editorial: Special Section on Outstanding Papers from MobiCom 2011

Thyaga Nandagopal, IEEE

Pages: pp. 1425

The annual International Conference on Mobile Computing and Networking (MobiCom) is the premier conference dedicated to addressing challenges in the areas of mobile computing and wireless and mobile networking. This highly selective conference serves as the premier international forum addressing networks, systems, algorithms, and applications that support the symbiosis of mobile computers and wireless networks. In September 2011, the 17th edition of the conference was held in the city of Las Vegas in the United States, and the papers presented there ranged from smartphone applications to cellular network technologies, addressing several issues at various layers of the protocol stack.

This special section brings to you revised versions of highly-ranked papers from MobiCom 2011. The conference was very competitive, with 29 papers being selected from 202 submissions. From the accepted papers, the PC chairs further selected three of the top papers as judged by the PC reviews and the actual conference presentations. The authors of these papers were invited to submit a revised paper to the IEEE Transactions on Mobile Computing. The three papers address different problems that are of immediate and pressing relevance to the mobile networking community and the general public at large. This is reflective of the high quality of research that is showcased each year at MobiCom.

The first paper in this special section is “Sensing Driver Phone Use with Acoustic Ranging Through Car Speakers” by researchers at the Stevens Institute of Technology and Rutgers University, both from New Jersey. This work addresses the fundamental problem of distinguishing between a driver and passenger using a mobile phone, which is the critical input to enable numerous safety and interface enhancements. The proposed detection system leverages the existing car stereo infrastructure, in particular, the speakers and Bluetooth network. Despite the noisy environment found in practical situations in cars, the scheme proposed here had a classification accuracy of more than 90 percent, and around 95 percent with some calibrations, in addition to a very low false positive rate. This provides a reasonable way of providing built-in tools in smart-phones to avoid driver distraction, which is one of the leading causes of automobile accidents today.

The second paper “E-MiLi: Energy-Minimizing Idle Listening in Wireless Networks” by Xinyu Zhang and Kang Shin from the University of Michigan, looks at methods to minimize energy consumption by idle network interfaces in a wireless network. The relevance of this problem to the real world cannot be more timely: In modern mobile devices, such as smart-phones and tablets, the wireless interface is the second biggest drain on battery power, despite being idle most of the time. This paper looks at methods to reduce this power consumption. Using the fact that radio power consumption decreases proportionally to its clock-rate, E-MiLi adaptively downclocks the radio during IL, and reverts to full clock-rate when an incoming packet is detected or a packet has to be transmitted. They are able to reduce power consumption by nearly half in real-world wireless networks.

The last paper in the group is “FLUID: Improving Throughputs in Enterprise Wireless LANs through Flexible Channelization” by Shravan Rayanchu, Vivek Shrivastava, and Suman Banerjee from the University of Wisconsin and Ranveer Chandra from Microsoft Research. It looks at the traditional enterprise wireless LAN and addresses the issue of increasing the throughputs in such environments where deployments can be dense. This is of great value to the corporate IT sector, where the increasing penetration of mobile devices and the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend has meant a greater shift in the fraction of enterprise traffic accessed via wireless in the last hop. This paper configures all access points and their clients using an appropriate channel width and center frequency for each transmission, and shows that it improves the average throughput by 59 percent across all PHY rates, compared to existing fixed-width approaches.

I hope that there is much to learn from these papers, and that you will enjoy reading them.

About the Authors

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Thyaga Nandagopal received the MS and PhD degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2000 and 2002. He is currently a program director at the US National Science Foundation in Arlington, Virginia. He served as a member of the technical staff in the Networking Research Group at Bell Labs from 2002 to 2012. His research interests are spread across several domains, ranging from wireless cellular networks, mesh/sensor networks, and RFIDs to novel network architectures, networking for cloud computing, and energy-efficient networking protocols and systems. He has chaired IEEE SECON and ACM Mobicom conferences and received best paper awards from IEEE COMSNETS 2010 and IEEE CCGrid 2012. He has eight patents and more than 30 patent applications pending, spanning wireless systems, network architectures, and social networks. He is a senior member of the IEEE and a member of ACM.
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