Penn State launches new center focused on network science

University Park, Pa. — Penn State will launch a new interdisciplinary research center focused on the science of communication networks with approximately $35.5 million in funding over 10 years from the Army Research Laboratory.

The Communication Networks Research Center, part of the new Network Science Collaborative Technology Alliance, will perform foundational research on network science. The research focuses on the interplay among the social/cognitive, information and communication networks.

Thomas La Porta, distinguished professor of computer science and engineering and director of the Networking and Security Research Center (NSRC) at Penn State, is the principal investigator and director of the Communication Networks Research Center. Other NSRC faculty participating in the new center include Guohong Cao, professor of computer science and engineering; Adam Smith, assistant professor of computer science and engineering; Sencun Zhu, assistant professor of computer science and engineering; and Aylin Yener, associate professor of electrical engineering.

Partners in the center include the University of California at Davis, the University of California at Santa Cruz, University of Southern California and the City University of New York. Several institutions also will be collaborating with the center including the University of California at Riverside, North Carolina State University, Stanford University and BBN Technologies.

"This is the first project looking at the social interaction, information distribution and mobile ad-hoc network as a whole," explained Jay Gowens, director of the Army Research Laboratory's Computational and Information Sciences Directorate (CISD). "This comprehensive approach will develop network science as an integrated whole, combining three previously disparate intellectual pursuits."

"The Army is moving rapidly and ever deeper into a network-centric world," said Alexander Kott, network science division chief at the CISD. "So much now depends on how war fighters and sensors and weapons communicate information through mobile, self-forming rapidly-changing networks."

Eva Pell, senior vice president for research and dean of the Graduate School, said, "We have been building a strong research effort in network sciences at Penn State. The Networking and Security Research Center at Penn State is uniquely position to lead this work."

The goal of the Communication Networks Research Center is to understand the why a communication network, like the Internet or a wireless network, behaves over time.

"We will focus on unique ways in which communication networks interact with social networks and information networks," said La Porta. "For example, we can all see how new ways of building social networks through services such as Facebook impact how communication networks like the Internet and cellular phone networks are used. Ultimately we will be able control the behavior of communication networks in a way that allows people to exchange the most important information."

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Last Updated November 12, 2009