The latest JANET high speed network, launched last year, is enabling
researchers and others to share data reliably at previously unattainable speeds
and tackle tasks that would otherwise have been impossible. Imagine, then, what
you could do with a network four, ten or even 100 times faster (40,100 or even
1000 Gbits/s compared with the present 10Gbit/s). Today’s applications that
involve the transmission of large amounts of data across the network - such as
sophisticated heart modelling, detailed simulations of complex molecules, or
collaborative dance or music performances among remote partners - would be
available to all rather than a few pioneers.
Wanting to keep well ahead of demand, JISC already has its sights on such a
network. The JSR (JISC Support of Research) sub-committee is funding the JANET
Aurora project, a so-called dark fibre facility for research into the components
and architecture needed for next generation networks. “JANET Aurora is a
substantial new infrastructure to enable collaboration between optical
networking specialists and their colleagues researching ways in which future
optical networks might be used by very demanding projects and application
groups,” says David Salmon, JANET(UK)'s Research Support Unit Manager.
Most data is now transmitted across networks on a light wave that travels along
an optical fibre. However, bottlenecks that limit network speed and
capacity occur because optical signals must be converted to electrical signals
for routing and processing and back again for onward transmission.
JANET Aurora is putting the UK at the forefront of network research by enabling
the design and testing of all-optical switches and new network architectures
that minimise the need for processing at network nodes. It is linking three
sites at the universities of Cambridge, Essex and University College London with
350km of high quality optical fibre provided by ntl:Telewest Business, part of
Virgin Media. The fibre is supplied with no light shining down it (hence dark
fibre), leaving researchers free to experiment with all-optical routing
equipment at a variety of wavelengths.
“We will populate the network with our own technology and form an on-line
distributed research environment, a UK virtual photonics laboratory,” says
Professor Dimitra Simeonidou who is leading the project at the University of
Essex. The UK has the advantage of very strong research groups in advanced
networking technologies that are physically close enough to link together with
the dark fibre, she says. Other groups in the UK will also be able to use
the facility by connecting to it via JANET Lightpath, with its connection to
Europe and North America through the GÉANT 2 European network. A number of
projects are already planned with international partners.
Some initial projects will explore the demands on the network of potential
future users, such as radio astronomers who are preparing to build the world’s
largest radio telescope, the Square Kilometre Array. Very high data rates and
reliable network performance will be needed to pool data from widely-dispersed
receivers and form an image of a celestial object almost instantaneously.
“Another application we’re looking at is ultra-high performance video where you
need to transmit uncompressed images in real-time, making it possible to watch a
full length feature film over the internet with no loss of quality, sound delays
or awkward gaps as the data downloads,” says Professor Simeonidou.
month Essex was well represented at the Evo*2008 conferences and workshops in
Naples. Bill Langdon (Maths and Biology) was given the
EvoStar 2008 Award in recognition of the most outstanding contribution to
Evolutionary Computation. Philip Saks and Dietmar
Maringer (CCFEA) won the best paper prize in evolutionary finance.
Stephen Dignum (CES) won the best student paper award.
Also Nicholas McPhee (who is on sabatical here in Computing and Electronic
Systems), Brian Ohs and Tyler Hutchison won the best paper prize at EuroGP and
Essex collaborators from the University of Kent won the best paper prize in
The event also saw the launch of A
Field Guide to Genetic Programming by Riccardo Poli, Bill Langdon and Nick
See below for a list of Essex awards,
nominations and papers submitted.
Best Paper Awards
EuroGP Winner: Semantic building blocks in genetic
programming Nicholas McPhee, Brian Ohs, Tyler Hutchison
EvoFin Winner: Genetic Programming in Statistical
Arbitrage Philip Saks, Dietmar Maringer
EvoPhD Winner: An Analysis of Genetic Programming
Operator Bias regarding the Sampling of Program Size with Potential Applications
EuroGP Best Paper Nominations
Operator Equalisation and Bloat Free GP Stephen Dignum, Riccardo Poli
A Linear Estimation-of-Distribution GP System Riccardo Poli, Nicholas McPhee
Practical Model of Genetic Programming's Performance on Rational Symbolic
Regression Problems Mario Graff, Riccardo Poli
The Effects of Constant Neutrality on Performance and Problem Hardness in GP,
Edgar Galvan-Lopez, Stephen Dignum, Riccardo Poli
Crossover, Sampling, Bloat and the Harmful Effects of Size Limits Stephen
Dignum, Riccardo Poli
A SIMD interpreter for Genetic Programming on GPU Graphics Cards W.B. Langdon,
Inc*: An Incremental Approach to Improving Local Search Heuristics Mohamed
Bader-El-Den and Riccardo Poli
An Evolutionary Game-Theoretical Approach to Particle Swarm Optimisation Cecilia
Di Chio, Paolo Di Chio, Mario Giacobini
On March 19, The Times featured an article that
highlighted the rise in demand for web developers and programmers in response to
the business world’s increasing reliance on the Internet. In the piece, Dr
Simon Lucas emphasises the importance of obtaining an undergraduate degree in a
numerate discipline before going on to study web application programming at MSc
level. For the full article at the Times Online,
MSc student Muneerah Essa Al-Oud was also interviewed in The Times on why she
chose to study e-commerce technology at postgraduate level – read the interview
Professor Crawford will be making two presentations
on behalf of the University on “The Mobile Television Market” and “Spectrum for
Mobile Multimedia” at the Workshop on Enabling Mobile
Multimedia Convergence in Middle East and North Africa to be held at Hourghada,
Egypt on 2 – 4 April.
Professor Richard Bartle was interviewed by BBC Essex's Etholle George on 27
March, regarding the Byron Review about children, computer games and the
Internet (which was published that day). Sadly for
Etholle, he didn't have much to criticise: "It's a good report".
You can read the report
Richard also gave the keynote
speech at the Indie MMO Game Developers Conference in Minneapolis on 30
The slides are available
*Warning* slide 35
contains mature language - actually a reference to a category of weapons found
in computer games.
See this entry in
Wikipedia for an explanation.