University of Hawaii

Department of Electrical Engineering

COE Distinguished Lecture Series Presents Norman Abramson: "ALOHA to the Web"

Date: 2006-12-05
Time: 4:30 pm
Location: East-West Center, Asia Room
Speaker: Norman Abramson

Dr. Abramson created the ALOHA protocol now widely used for nearly all forms of wireless communications. He is the founder and CTO of Skyware, a wireless communications company. 

From 1968 to 1996 he was a Professor of Electrical Engineering and a Professor of Information and Computer Sciences at the University of Hawaii.  He has also been a member of the faculty at Stanford, Berkeley, Harvard and MIT.  At the University of Hawaii he served as Chair of the Information and Computer Sciences department and as Director of the ALOHA System research project. He directed the effort at the University of Hawaii which led to the construction and operation of the ALOHANET, the first wireless packet network.  He has served as Consulting Expert in Communication Systems, Data Networks and Satellite Networks for the ITU (Geneva), UNESCO (Paris) and the UNDP (Jakarta). 

He is the recipient of prestigious international awards including the 2007 IEEE Alexander Graham Bell Medal "for contributions to the development of modern data networks through fundamental work in random multiple access", the 1995 IEEE Koji Kobayashi Computers and Communications Award, and the 2000 Technology Award from the Eduard Rhein Foundation. He holds eight U.S. and international patents.

He received an A.B. degree in physics from Harvard, an M.S. degree in physics from UCLA, and a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Stanford

Seminar:  "ALOHA to the Web"

In this talk we provide a brief history of the development of the ALOHANet at the University of Hawaii together with a quick review of the properties of ALOHA channels.  The use of random access ALOHA channels in both Ethernet and a wide variety of commercial standards for wireless data networks (GSM, CDMA, W-CDMA, CDMA2000, Mobitex, DataTAC, CDPD, GPRS, EDGE, WiFi and WiMax) will then be outlined.

When these wireless terrestrial data networks, or equivalent satellite data networks, are used for Internet access the cost of the ALOHA based access channel from the user to the network is the dominant factor in any analysis of total network cost.  However, the interaction of ALOHA with HTTP/TCP/IP and other high level protocols used in the Internet can limit the effectiveness of both TCP and ALOHA for such access.  We describe this awkward interaction of standards in the high cost random access channel and suggest a strategy of migration to a more sensible access architecture based upon transparent proxies.