Taming Uncertainties in Reliable, Real-Time Messaging for Wireless Networked Sensing and Control   (NSF CAREER; PI: Hongwei Zhang)   

In supporting mission-critical tasks such as those in industrial automation and the next-generation vehicles, message passing in wireless networked sensing and control systems is required to be reliable and in real-time. Nonetheless, the design priorities on reliability and real-time require us to rethink the models and protocols for messaging, we still lack an interference model that is local and accurate for distributed protocol design, and the basic problem of computing probabilistic path delays is NP-hard. Focusing on single-hop transmission scheduling and multi-hop spatiotemporal data flow control, we address these challenges by pursuing the following tasks: 1) Based on our physical-ratio-K (PRK) interference model, we investigate control-theoretic approaches to online model instantiation, and we address the challenges of large interference range as well as anisotropic, asymmetric wireless communication; 2) We propose a lightweight approach  to computing probabilistic path delays, and we propose a multi-timescale adaptation framework for real-time messaging. The proposed research makes novel contributions to the models, protocols, and network planning tools for reliable, real-time wireless messaging. For instance, our PRK interference model integrates protocol model's locality with physical model's high-fidelity, thus it bridges the gap between the suitability for distributed implementation and the enabled scheduling performance. By controlling network operations at the same timescale of the corresponding dynamics, our multi-timescale adaptation framework ensures long-term optimality while addressing short-term dynamics at the same time.

Along with the research, we also pursue an integrated, multi-level, multi-component education plan. Our education activities will raise public awareness and will improve student retention and the participation of underrepresented groups in computing

Publications (Selected):
  • Qiao Xiang, Hongwei Zhang, In-Network Processing in Wireless Sensor NetworksHandbook of Sensor Networking: Advanced  Technologies and  Applications, CRC Press, 2015

Broader Impacts (Selected):
  • PI Zhang has led the establishment of the cyber-physical systems (CPS) graduate program in the College of Engineering, Wayne State University, and the program has been officially approved by the university and will launch in fall 2017. Besides Wayne State University, the program is highly supported by industry partners such as Ford, GM, Lear, Magna, ODVA, and Automation of Things.
  • PI Zhang has created and taught the new course ``CSC 5260/ECE 5260: Introduction to Cyber-Physical Systems" in winter 2017 that focuses on introducing the technology foundations of cyber-physical systems to graduate students and senior undergraduate students. This course examines a wide range of topics including modeling, design, analysis, and implementation of cyber-physical systems, dynamic behavior modeling, state machine composition, concurrent computation, sensors and actuators, embedded systems and networks, feedback control systems, analysis and verification techniques, temporal logic, and model checking. The course helps prepare graduate and senior undergraduate students for pursuing advanced topics in areas such as connected and autonomous vehicles, Industry 4.0, Internet of Things (IoT), and smart and connected health.
  • PI Zhang has created a research seminar course (i.e., ``CSC 8260: Wireless Networking and Cyber-Physical Systems'') in winter 2012 that focuses on wireless networked sensing and control in cyber-physical systems (CPS). This seminar course examines a wide range of topics including CPS applications (e.g.,smart energy grid, transportation system, healthcare), fundamentals of wireless communication (e.g., wireless channel, signal propagation, modulation, link models), wireless networking in a local region (e.g., MAC), large scale wireless networking (e.g., routing, transport), and real-time wireless networking, predictable wireless networking in an uncertain world (e.g., wireless system and environmental dynamics, jamming), and wireless networked control. The course helps prepare students for innovative development and research in wireless networked sensing and control and cyber-physical systems in general.
  • PI Zhang has created a new, regular undergraduate computer networking course ``CSC 4290: Introduction to Computer Networking'', and he has introduced latest results on wireless networking and wireless networked sensing and control to the course. The new research directions and results have attracted great interest from the students, and they have served as topics for group discuss and creative brainstorming.
  • Using the NetEye sensor network testbed NetEye, PI Zhang and his students have demonstrated wireless sensor networking and wireless networked sensing and control to the broad community:
    • Visitors from the Automation of Things LLC, Lear Corporation, Next Energy, Princeton University, 2015-2016
    • Prospective undergraduate students, weekly since 2015
    • U.S.A. White House and NIST Presidential Innovation Fellows, February 20, 2014
    • College students from Shanghai University, China, July 19, 2013
    • K-12 students from Metro Detroit, ``GO-Computing:  Gaining Options Through Computing'' event, December 15, 2012
    • Faculty and students from the medical school, the biomedical engineering department, and the technology transfer office of the PI's university, March and April 2013
  • PI Zhang has been actively training Ph.D. students involved in the project, through regular research group meetings as well as individual meetings and discussions.