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Electrical Engineering Professor Michael Neely Wins NSF CAREER Award

Early Career Award Will Support Neely's Work to Address Delay Issues in Ad-Hoc Wireless Networks

February 22, 2008 — Michael Neely, assistant professor in the Viterbi School’s Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical Engineering, has been awarded a Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) grant by the National Science Foundation (NSF).
NSF Neely
Michael Neely

The $400,000 award will support Neely’s work in network modeling and analysis over a three-year period beginning July 1, 2008.  NSF CAREER awards, among the highest honors for young faculty, are highly competitive and support individual early career efforts to advance and effectively integrate research and education within the awardee’s academic institution. 

Neely’s research interests fall into the areas of queuing analysis and stochastic optimization for communication networks, including wireless and ad-hoc mobile networks. He won the CAREER award for his project, “Analysis and Control of Network Delay," which involves fundamental research in the area of network theory, particularly focusing on networks with highly dynamic environments.

“This work can help improve our understanding of current Internet and wireless systems, and lead to more efficient operations, as well as provide a foundation for future systems,” Neely said. 

Ad-hoc wireless networks allow wireless devices to communicate with each other without relying on central access points, such as a wireless cell tower.  Ad-hoc networking is also useful in networks of sensor devices, where distributed sensor nodes relay their sensed data to each other or to a processing station, Neely said.  

While algorithms to optimize energy use and throughput in networks have been studied, less is known about optimizing the most important consideration for the average user: delay.  Neely attributes that gap in the theory of data networks to the complex models that must be used to design network systems.  

His novel approach recognizes that the solution to these difficult problems is related to optimization techniques applied to a different set of problems, and that energy-delay and utility-delay bounds can be obtained.  Neely’s work also uses these bounds to find adaptive, low complexity procedures to achieve delay bounds for various types of applications.

Alexander A. “Sandy” Sawchuk, systems chair of the Ming Hsieh Department, congratulated Neely on the award. 

“Our faculty joins me in congratulating Mike for the recognition his research accomplishments have earned in network modeling and analysis," Sawchuk said. 

Neely earned his Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2003, and became an assistant professor of electrical engineering at USC in January 2004. He earned his M.S. degree in electrical engineering in 1999 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and B.S. degrees in both electrical engineering and mathematics in 1997 from the University of Maryland, College Park.