P.R. Kumar

Panelist: “An Evening of Innovation” Sponsored by Qualcomm


Panganamala R. Kumar’s sustained contributions to the mathematical modeling, analysis, and design of wireless networks have been instrumental in understanding the scaling behavior of network capacity with a large number of nodes and the role of network protocols in achieving capacity limits for optimum network performance, including real-time communications. One of the most widely cited theoretical works in the area of communication networks is his result on the asymptotic behavior of network throughput in a wireless network as the number of nodes in the network goes to infinity. He demonstrated that, while it is difficult to characterize the throughput of small and moderately sized wireless networks, a clean asymptotic characterization emerges when the number of nodes is very large. He also showed how network protocols should be designed to achieve maximum throughput. His development of optimal scheduling algorithms for transmitting real-time data over time-varying wireless channels was a major breakthrough for communication in networks supporting cyber-physical systems subject to severe deadline constraints, such as information that a vehicle is suddenly braking that has to be conveyed to other vehicles behind it nearly instantaneously. He provided a general solution by assigning to each node a time-varying weight depending on the number of packets delivered by their deadlines. He established that a scheduling algorithm allocating a priority to nodes in function of their weights can be used to maximize the probability that packets are delivered on time. This led to the design of general algorithms implementable for all real-time wireless communications. He also has championed the view that sensor networks are essentially a collection of nodes designed to perform computation, such as a sensor network deployed in an area to compute the maximum temperature in the sensed area, where the goal of the network is to compute the maximum value of these measurements.

An IEEE Life Fellow and member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering, Kumar is Regents Professor and University Distinguished Professor with the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, USA.