FFATA: CAREER: Beyond Akamai and BitTorrent: Information and Decision Dynamics in Content Distribution Networks
Recent studies estimate that a majority of Internet traffic is digital content distribution, whose dominant component is applications that require tight time deadlines, such as content streaming and realtime services. Excessive costs of always-available server-based content distribution networks (CDNs), and a lack of service guarantees in low-cost peer-to-peer (P2P) networks have led the pursuit of agile hybrids of both systems that seek to leverage the best of each. Such a hybrid requires coordination across peers, across information, and across shared resources available to the peers, which form the three research thrusts of this project. The first objective of this project is the development of a systematic analytical framework to achieve this coordination, using ideas drawn from game theory, learning and stochastic networks. The aim is to capture the fundamental properties of large-scale content distribution systems using analytical models, and bind together applications such as file sharing, streaming, cloud-based services, and device-to-device wireless networks by employing this framework. The second is to generate prescriptions for ensuring economic viability by using revelations on the value of the system to participating agents. Finally, the basic analytical methodology developed will be applicable generally beyond the core problem of content distribution. The analytical insights will be validated via a smart-phone-based server-assisted P2P content streaming network. Broader Impact: The project is supported by an education and outreach agenda that aims at familiarizing students with analytical results developed and how best to apply them in a real-world setting. A core component is a semester-long course for seniors and first-year grads in which classroom teaching is complemented by research experience through app development at the AM-Droiders smart-phone laboratory. Outreach includes demonstrations and illustrative projects at a yearly week-long summer camp for high school students, as well as tele-seminars in which students from multiple universities (including Prairie View A&M, an HBCU) can participate interactively. The project is further enhanced by strong collaborations with industry.