Friday, June 24, 2011

Papers at CWIT: PDFs and video

I posted earlier about my papers at CWIT.  I finally got around to uploading the PDFs and video.

J. P. K. Chu, A. W. Eckford, and R. S. Adve, “Distributed optimization of the Bhattacharyya parameter in wireless relay networks,” in Proc. 12th Canadian Workshop on Information Theory, Kelowna, BC, 2011. [PDF] (Video not available.)

L. Cui and A. W. Eckford, “The delay selector channel: Definition and capacity bounds,” in Proc. 12th Canadian Workshop on Information Theory, Kelowna, BC, 2011. [PDF]

Presentation video for the Cui/Eckford paper:


Monday, June 20, 2011

Jeffrey Simpson, do your research

Good news, everyone! Jeffrey Simpson has solved all that ails the university sector in Ontario: it turns out that those lazy professors need to stop doing their airy-fairy research and get their butts in front of the classroom.  Oh, and we also need heavy-handed government intervention to make this happen.

Simpson's column betrays an almost complete lack of understanding of the modern university, not to mention the role and importance of research.  I would invite Simpson to check the research page of any university in Ontario, listing high-profile and news-making results (e.g., U of T, York). Perhaps in his next column, Simpson can let us know which of these results he would trade against smaller class sizes for undergraduates, from the innovative and censorship-fighting Citizen Lab to the breakthroughs of the University Health Network to environment-saving advances in clean energy.  Or perhaps he can let us know which of the many innovative spin-off companies arising from university research Ontario can do without (at U of W alone, valued at nearly $1 billion annually in a 2001 report).

Simpson also fails to understand that there is no tension between research and teaching. Indeed, at the graduate level, research is teaching: graduate students learn the difficult process of developing new knowledge through research, under the close guidance of a supervising professor.  From personal experience, I can say that graduate supervision is a rewarding but time-consuming process; one that Simpson completely ignores.

I could go on, but I've got a lot of research work to do this afternoon! I'm working on an innovative communication technique for nanorobots that may one day revolutionize drug delivery and make invasive surgery obsolete -- take that, taxpayers! Meanwhile, before writing his next column, I suggest Simpson do a bit of the research he hates so much and acquaint himself with what universities actually do in 2011.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

On Slepian-Wolf compression, in memory of Jack Wolf

Jack Keil Wolf, one of the giants of information theory, passed away last month.  His obituary was carried in the New York Times.

Wolf's signature contribution was in distributed data compression.  Say you're trying to retrieve two files, X and Y, from separate servers on a network. One strategy would be to compress both files individually to their entropy, H(X) and H(Y), and download them; this requires H(X)+H(Y) bits.  This is as good as you can do if X and Y are statistically independent.  However, if they are dependent, compressing X and Y together can be done at the joint entropy H(X,Y), which is less than H(X)+H(Y). But what can be done by the two servers, since neither has access to both X and Y?