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[Colloquium] Perpetual Systems: Building systems to survive in the wild

March 4, 2010

Watch Colloquium: 

Quicktime file (510 MB)
AVI file (496 MB)


  • Date: Thursday, March 4, 2010 
  • Time: 11 am — 12:15 pm 
  • Place: Mechanical Engineering, Room 218

Jacob Sorber
Dept. of Computer Science
University of Massachusetts-Amherst

Abstract: Recent advances in low-power electronics, energy harvesting, and sensor technologies are poised to revolutionize the field of mobile computing, by enabling mobile systems that are long-lived, energy-aware, and self-managing. When realized, this new generation of perpetual systems will have a transformational impact, improving ability to observe natural phenomena, providing network services to remote communities, and enabling many ubiquitous computing applications for which regular maintenance is not feasible. Unfortunately, energy and mobility make building even the simplest systems challenging. Energy harvesting is highly variable, battery storage is limited, and mobility introduces sparse connectivity. Instead of rising to meet these challenges, current mobile applications, operating systems, and languages have evolved very little from their desktop computing origins.

In this talk, I will describe challenges, results, and lessons learned from developing self-tuning mobile sensing systems in the context of two ongoing wildlife studies, focused on endangered tortoises and invasive mongooses. Specifically, I will describe language, runtime, and network techniques that simplify programming energy-aware systems and provide energy efficiency and fairness in energy-constrained networks.

Bio: Jacob Sorber is a PhD candidate in Computer Science at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, graduating Summer 2010. His research focuses on mobile systems, pervasive computing, and sensor networks, with an emphasis on making mobile computing systems more flexible, energy-aware, and self-managing.