Assistant Professor Geoffrey Mainland Receives Two National Science Foundation Grants

Assistant Professor of Computer Science Geoffrey Mainland, PhD, has received more than $1 million in grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for research that will further the development of Software-Defined Radio (SDR) networks.

The first grant, $850,000 for a project entitled “II-NEW: Scalable Software Defined Radio Network Testbed for Hybrid Measurement and Emulation,” was one Mainland applied for with with a team of professors in Drexel University’s College of Engineering. For this project, he serves as one of three co-principal investigators under Principal Investigator Kapil Dandekar, an electrical and computer engineering professor. The team’s goal is to create a remotely accessible testbed that would allow users to customize SDR applications and test their radios with controllable radio-emulated, -simulated, and -over-the-air channels. They plan to share this equipment locally and remotely with faculty, staff and students in the research community for educational purposes when the project is complete. If is successful, this project will establish Drexel University as a leader in cybersecurity and telecommunication systems research.

Mainland is also the Principal Investigator on a $443,935 NSF grant titled “Small:Software-Defined Radio: From High-level Language to Hardware.” This project aims to make high-data rate radio protocol design accessible to a wider range of developers by developing a new high-level language for expressing SDR applications, thus freeing protocol designers from worrying about the low-level details of a particular SDR platform. Intellectually, it will require a new understanding of the language abstractions and runtime facilities needed to translate high-level code to efficient low-level implementations. The goal of Mainland's project is to drastically lower the barrier to entry for high-speed software-defined radio platforms and produce new tools for SDR research and education communities.

Both grants were received in 2017 and will continue until 2020. They are iterative of Mainland's previous research projects, which tend to focus on high-level programming languages and runtime support for non-general purpose computation and making it easier to exploit the power of special-purpose devices that require specialized programming models for optimal efficiency.

Prior to Drexel, Mainland received a bachelor of arts degree in physics from Harvard University in 2000 and returned to complete his doctorate in computer science in 2011. He previously served as a postdoctoral researcher with the Programming Principles and Tools group at Microsoft Research Cambridge (UK) and has published papers at conferences such as Networked Systems Design and Implementation (NSDI) and the International Conference on Functional programming (ICFP).

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