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International Journal of Wireless Information Networks, Vol. 10, No.

2, April 2003 (© 2003)

A Neural Network–Based Connectivity Management

for Mobile Computing Environment

B. P. Vijay Kumar1 and P. Venkataram1,2

The mobile computing environment experiences wireless problems and suffers from limited
bandwidth, which leads to frequent disconnections. This has posed a challenge in maintaining user-
to-user connectivity in the mobile computing environment. In this paper, we propose a neural network
(NN) based connectivity management for mobile computing environment to maintain the mobile user-
to-user connectivity throughout the transaction. Here the connectivity management maintains the sta-
tus information of mobile hosts at the base station to handle frequent disconnection of mobile hosts
(MHs), which occur because of hand-offs and interruptions. The disconnection of an MH because of
wireless problems is called interruption, and the disconnection due to MH crossing the cell boundary
is called hand-off. The neural networks are trained with respect to the status information to provide an
intelligent decision for the connectivity management. The simulation results demonstrate that the pro-
posed technique performs well in terms of percentage acceptance of disconnections and resource uti-
lization (bandwidth and buffer) for the volatile mobile computing environment. It is also observed that
the intelligent decision by neural network has improved the performance of the system.

KEY WORDS: Connectivity management; status information; neural network; back-propagation algorithm.

1. INTRODUCTION disconnections due to MHs crossing the cell boundary

(i.e., hand-off) can be called hand-off MH. We define the
Recently, a mobile computing environment has connectivity management as a task that involves handling
emerged from the universe of mobile computers and the frequent re-attachment requests from the interrupted and
rapid advancement of wireless networking technology hand-off MHs in a mobile computing environment.
[1–4]. It enables mobile users to communicate anytime In this paper, we propose an NN-based connectivity
and anywhere without the restrictions of geographical management technique for mobile computing environment
location [5]. However, because of the intrinsic character- to maintain the user-to-user connectivity throughout the
istics of mobile computing, some problems arise, such as transaction. The technique involves maintenance of status
communication resource deficiency and frequent information of the MHs at the BS to handle frequent dis-
disconnections. The disconnections resulting from wire- connection of MHs, and a neural network is trained with
less link failure (i.e., obstacles, wireless problems) or vol- respect to the status information to learn the volatile nature
untary disconnections (voluntary disconnections from the of the mobile computing environment (e.g., average dis-
mobile host are requested to save battery life) within a connection period, rate of disconnection, mobility) to pro-
cell boundary can be called interrupted MH. The vide an intelligent decision for connectivity management.
The rest of the paper is organized as follows. We dis-
cuss some of the related works in Section 2. In Section 3,
Protocol Engineering and Technology (PET) Unit, Electrical
Communication Engineering Department, Indian Institute of Science, the proposed connectivity management technique, deriving
Bangalore, 560 012, India. the training data set from status information and the neu-
E-mail: ral network training procedures, is described. Simulation

1068-9605/03/0400-0063/0 © 2003 Plenum Publishing Corporation
64 Kumar and Venkataram

model along with the results and discussions are given in 3.1. Status Information of a Mobile Host
Section 4. Finally, we present the conclusions in Section 5.
The status information of each registered MH in a
cell is as follows. This status information is maintained
at the BS.
MH ID Connectivity status Disconnection time Service class
In this section we discuss some of the related
works carried out in mobile computing environment. In MH ID: MH identification number, a positive integer.
Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) [6], Connectivity status: The connectivity status of MHs can
timer-based call re-establishment services are pro- be categorized into connected, interrupted, and hand-
posed. In this approach, a radio link may be temporar- off. The connectivity status is maintained for each
ily disconnected when there is a propagation loss due to MH and updated based on the reception of periodic
obstacle (e.g., bridges and tunnels) shielding. In such attachment signals from MH or by continuous moni-
an environment, to avoid forced termination or to toring of signal-to-noise ratio. The connectivity status
reduce call dropping due to call interruption, the call of MH is said to be connected if the periodic attach-
re-establishment services [6] and an analytical model to ment signals are received regularly, and is said to be
study the performance [7] has been proposed for the interrupted if the BS stops receiving periodic attach-
connectivity management. ment signals from MH. If the signal-to-noise ratio for
The periodic attachment in future mobile com- MH has reached less than the threshold value, then
munications and the induced signaling load are evalu- MH connectivity status is said to be hand-off.
ated as influenced by the selection of the time-out Disconnection time: Disconnection time is a time at
period. A method for dynamic time-out period selection which a MH is either interrupted from the BS or a
to fit the varying traffic conditions is proposed and hand-off is initiated to the neighboring cell.
evaluated [8]. In [9], a periodic attachment is considered Service class: Service class indicates the type of the
as an alternative location updating scheme (i.e., the applications running on the MH. The type of appli-
mobile host re-attachment actions provide location cations may be the following: audio, video, real-time,
information). and non–real-time data applications.
Some of the other works carried out in mobile com-
puting environments involve the connection manage-
ment for hand-off mobile hosts [10,11]. Several other
3.2. Use of Status Information
schemes (e.g., multicast based, predictive based) are pro-
posed for maintaining network connections in a mobile The status information parameters are chosen such
computing environment during the hand-off situation that the connection information regarding interrupted or
[12–14]. These algorithms modify the existing connec- hand-off MH is abstracted. The CMT uses the status
tions to MHs by partial re-establishment of connections information for handling interrupted and hand-off MHs
to perform hand-off. for the purpose of re-connection establishment.
In mobile computing environment there are various
types of applications used, such as real-time and non–real-
3. THE CONNECTIVITY MANAGEMENT time applications. Non–real-time applications require
TECHNIQUE error-free services. Real-time applications require guaran-
teed services in terms of delay, jitter, throughput, and
The main objective of the proposed connectivity reliability. These service parameters depend on the main-
management technique (CMT) is to maintain the mobile tenance of connections throughout the lifetime of applica-
user-to-user connectivity throughout the transaction. The tions. Because of frequent disconnections it may not be
CMT keeps track of the interrupted and hand-off MHs by possible to maintain the continuity of application. Consider
maintaining the status information at the currently regis- an example to illustrate the use of status information
tered BS. The status information contains the activities parameters: Service class and Disconnection time. These
of all the MHs registered with the BS. The CMT uses a two parameters help in providing delay-sensitive blocking
neural network that is trained with respect to the status and error-free services for the applications. Such services
information, both online and offline training, to learn the are provided by buffering the transmitted data packets from
volatile nature of the mobile environment for an intelli- correspondent host (CH) (may be server in case of on-
gent decision. demand applications) to interrupted MH at the BS. Here
A Neural Network–Based Connectivity Management for Mobile Computing Environment 65

buffering helps in maintaining the continuity of applica-

tion. A threshold time can be fixed for each service class to
buffer the packets. For example, a real-time video cannot
be buffered for longer duration because the delayed video
packets are as good as dead. Therefore different threshold
time can be fixed for real-time and non–real-time applica-
tions. If the MHs disconnection period is more than the
threshold time limit of the application type, then such
request can be rejected or aborted.
Fig. 1. Neural network model for CMT.

3.3. Training Data Set

3.4.1. Selection of Neurons for NN Model
This section describes the method of deriving train-
The selection of number of input, hidden, and out-
ing data set from the status information, which is used
put layer neurons for CMT is as follows. The set of input
for training neural network. The training data set consists
layer neurons are selected based on the status informa-
of input parameters such as connectivity status, service
tion parameters.
class, disconnection period, and resource requirement.
For example, if the Connectivity status is repre-
The disconnection period for an MH is a time duration
sented by a one bit information n1, i.e., n1 ⫽ 1 if inter-
from when the MH is interrupted or a hand-off is initi-
rupted MH, n1 ⫽ 0 if hand-off MH.
ated. This period may be measured in terms of number
of periodic reattachment signals or a fraction of it.
Resource requirement is the quantity of resources Service class: A two bit information n2, if audio, video,
required by an application, such as bandwidth and buffer. real-time, and non–real-time data applications
An example of the training data set derived from sta- are considered, then n2 can take values as follows,
tus information of seven disconnected MHs in a cell along n2 ⫽ 00 for audio; n2 ⫽ 01 for video, n2 ⫽ 10 for
with the expected output is shown in Table I. The expected real-time data, and n2 ⫽ 11 for non–real-time data
output indicates the decision of the CMT and the result that applications.
should be obtained after training a neural network. Disconnection period Td: A five bit n3 to represent a dis-
connection period of up to 20 units, so n3 can take
any one value from (00000, 00001, . . . ,11111).
3.4. Training Procedure for Neural Network Resource requirement: A two bit information to represent
n4 ⫽ 11 (high), 10 (medium), 01 (low), 00 (very low)
The neural network model devised for connectivity resource requirement.
management is based on the back-propagation learning
algorithm [15,16]. The neural network model we consider
The total number of input layer neurons is equal to
has three layers: input, hidden, and output layers. The input
n1 ⫹ n2 ⫹ n3 ⫹ n4 ⫽ 10.
layer accepts the input parameter values from the training
The number of neurons required in the hidden layer
data set, and the output of neural network is expected to
depends on the number of input parameters and the esti-
indicate success/failed/abort as shown in Fig. 1.
mate of the number of training data provided for training
[16]. The number of output layer neurons depends on the
Table I. Training Data Set with Expected Output possible output values. In this problem, there are three
possible output values; therefore 2 output neurons are
Connectivity Disconnect Resource
sufficient to represent the same.
status Service class period requirement Output

Hand-off Audio 2 Low Success 3.4.2. Procedure

Hand-off Video 4 Very low Success
Interrupted Audio 10 Medium Abort We discuss the training procedure for a neural
Hand-off non–real-time 7 Low Success network by considering L layers with M input neurons
data by using back-propagation learning algorithm. The
Interrupted Video 3 High Failed
output of one layer is fed as the input of the next. The
Hand-off Audio 8 Low Failed
Interrupted Real-time data 15 Low Success neurons in one layer are connected to those in the next
with an adaptive weight. For M neurons in the input
66 Kumar and Venkataram

layer, the net input to the j-th neuron in the first hid- The criteria for the NN to train repeatedly can be based
den layer is on the following: (a) The expected output is not same
as the neural network output for new entry in the train-
T j ⫽ 兺M
(wji * outputi ) (1) ing data set; (b) The mean square error between the
neural network output and the expected output is not
where wji is the weight of the link connecting neuron i in less than the specified threshold (e.g., the threshold
the input layer to the neuron j in the hidden layer and may be 0.005).
outputi is the output from the neuron i in the input layer.
The output of each neuron is determined by applying a 3.4.3. Neural Network Training Algorithm
transfer function f (⭈) to the net input to the neuron. We
use the sigmoid activation function:
1. Construct a neural network with 1, 2, . . . , L
layers and in each layer select number of neurons
f (x) ⫽ (1 ⫹ e⫺x)⫺1 (2)
that suits the problem.
2. Initialize, wij ⫽ ␦ ∀i, j, a random value in the
The training is done by using back propagation in two
range (0, 1).
passes. The forward pass is used to evaluate the output
3. Choose an entry in the training data set.
of the neural network for the given input in the existing
4. Feed it to the input layer and propagate it
weights. In the reverse pass, the difference in the neural
through hidden layer until the output layer.
network output with the expected output is compared
5. For each of the neuron i in the output layer (layer
and fed back to the neural network as an error to change
L), compute the error using equation (3).
the weights of the neural network.
6. For l ⫽ 1, 2, . . . , (L ⫺ 1) and for each neuron
In the reverse pass, suppose for the particular neuron
i in layer l compute the error using equation (5).
i in the output layer L, the output is oiL while the expected
7. Update the weights using equation (4.5).
output value is diL. The back propagated error ␪ Li is:
8. If the error in the output layer is (∑[dLi⫺oLi ]2)
with in the permissible limits,
␪Li ⫽ f ¿ (T iL)[diL ⫺ oLi ] (3)
then go to step 9; /* for CMT decision */
else Repeat by going to step 3, until all the
where TLi represents the net input to the i-th neuron in the
entries in the training data set are learned by neu-
output (L-th) layer and f⬘ (⭈) is the derivative of f (⭈).
ral network.
For layers l ⫽ 1, 2, . . . , (L ⫺ 1), and for each
9. Stop
neuron i in layer l the error is computed using:
␪li ⫽ f ¿ (Ti l)兺 j (wl⫹1 l⫹1
ji *␪j ) (4)

The adaptation of the weight of the link connecting neu- 3.5. CMT Algorithm
rons i of layer l and neuron j of layer (l ⫺ 1) is done by On receiving a reattachment request from a discon-
using: nected MH, the CMT processes the corresponding entry
of the training data set of the MH. If there is no entry, it
w lij ⫽ wlij ⫹ K*␪li*ol⫺1
j (5) appends the same into the training data set and trains the
neural network; subsequently the CMT process takes
where K is the learning constant that depends on the place. Fig. 2 gives the flow chart of the CMT procedure.
rate at which the neural network is expected to The pseudo-code for the connectivity management
converge. This neural network algorithm essentially technique is as follows.
minimizes the mean square error between the NN out-
put and the expected output using gradient descent
3.5.1 Pseudo-code: Connectivity Management
approach [15].
This training procedure is iterated over all the
entries of the training data set for several times until Begin
the mean square error (∑[ dLi⫺oLi]2) between neural net- 1. CMT maintains the status information based on
work output and the expected output reaches some the messages exchanged between MH and BS.
specified threshold. This procedure is also repeated 2. Training data set is derived from the status infor-
when a new entry to the training data set has occurred. mation and network resource requirement.
A Neural Network–Based Connectivity Management for Mobile Computing Environment 67

Fig. 2. Flow chart of the CMT procedure.

3. Neural network is trained on the training data set

using back-propagation learning algorithm.
4. On receiving a reattachment request from a
disconnected MH, the CMT processes the
corresponding entry of the training data set of the
If there is no entry, it appends the same into the
training data set;
goto step 3;
Output the decision on the received re-attachment
request; goto step 4.
Fig. 3. (a) Message flow between MH and BS (case 1). (b) Message
End. flow between MH and BS (case 2).

Soon after the connection is re-established, the

required resources are allocated to the MH. The sus- zone area with buildings and tunnels acting as obstacle
pended data transfer would be restored. Hence the con- shielding. We assume that the MHs are frequently dis-
nectivity is restored without loss of any data. connected due to obstacles, wireless problems, or volun-
Based on the re-attachment request before and after tary disconnections. In such environment, the frequency
the specified maximum disconnection period, the of disconnection and disconnection time depends on the
decision of CMT varies. Fig. 3(a) illustrates case 1: a speed of mobile host, length of different obstacle shield-
reattachment request from disconnected MH before the ing, and traffic, which are random in nature.
maximum disconnection period tolerated by the service In the simulation, a sample of 100 MHs are consid-
class. An ACK message is sent for MH to maintain the ered moving within a cell and hand-off from the neigh-
connection. Fig. 3(b) illustrates case 2: a reattachment boring cells. Connectivity services are provided for both
request from disconnected MH after the maximum dis- interrupted and hand-off MHs. Four application services
connection period tolerated by the service class. A NAK are considered (audio, video, real-time, and non–real-
message is sent to abort the connection. time data applications). These applications are identified
with the specific parameters, such as maximum discon-
nection time (threshold time), bandwidth, and buffer
4. SIMULATION MODEL requirement. The parameters considered in the simula-
tion model are as follows.
The simulation model is composed of a single cell
with base station, which will keep contact with its neigh- Pd ⫽ Probability of disconnection, which is Bernoulli dis-
boring cells and provide the services to MHs on a city tributed for each of the connected MHs.
68 Kumar and Venkataram

Pr ⫽ Probability of re-attach request, which is C⫹⫹ programming language on a Pentium III worksta-
Bernoulli distributed for each of the discon- tion running Red Hat Linux OS.
nected MHs, and (1 ⫺ Pr) is new connection The simulation is carried out for 10000 time units,
request from the MHs that are not connected with different values of Pd and Pr to consider the
earlier. The total number of connection volatile nature of mobile computing environment. The
requests is uniformly distributed between 1 and simulation results are taken to trade-off between
the maximum number of MHs allowed. resource requirement and connectivity services. The
Td ⫽ Disconnection period; graphs plotted for the simulation results are given in the
Tha ⫽ Threshold time for audio service class; next subsection.
Th␷ ⫽ Threshold time for video service class;
Thrd ⫽ Threshold time for real-time data service class;
Thnrd ⫽ Threshold time for non–real-time data service 4.1. Results
BW ⫽ Total bandwidth capacity of a cell; The simulation results are taken for success/failure
Buffer ⫽ Total buffer capacity; /abort for re-attachment request with respect to the num-
ber of hand-off and interrupted MH requests for different
values of probability of disconnection (Pd) and probabil-
The bandwidth requirements for different service
ity of request (Pr) from disconnected MH. The graphs
classes are as follows.
are plotted to depict the same (see Fig. 4). Fig. 4(a)
shows the percentage of success for interrupted MH with
bwa ⫽ Bandwidth requirement for audio service class Pd ⫽ 0.3 and Pr ⫽ 0.3, 0.6, and 0.9. From the graphs in
(⬃100 kbps); Fig. 4, it is clear that as the total number of requesting
bw␷ ⫽ Bandwidth requirement for video service class mobile hosts increases, the percentage of success
(⬃2 to ⬃5 Mbps); decreases. But as Pd increases, the percentage of success
bwrd ⫽ Bandwidth requirement for real-time data serv- increases with Pr because new connection requests will
ice class (⬃2 to ⬃5 Mbps); be less, and highest priority is given to hand-off MHs.
bwnrd ⫽ Bandwidth requirement for non – real-time data The success/failure of requesting MH may also depend
service class (⬃1 Mbps to 5 Mbps); on the disconnection period (Td) (hand-off delay or
interruption duration) and threshold time fixed for each
The threshold times for different applications are service class. The results are taken for the success and
taken relatively, depending on the service classes and failure of hand-off MH with respect to the total number
interims of certain time units. Buffer requirement is of requests from MHs for Pd ⫽ 0.3, 0.6, and 0.9. The
based on the threshold time fixed for each service graph in Fig. 5 shows the success ratio for hand-off MH.
class. Here we observe that the success ratio increases as Pd
The numerical values for different parameters in the increases.
simulation are given in Table II. The graphs for resources utilization (bandwidth and
The NN model is devised with 10 neurons in the buffer) with respect to the number of MHs in a cell are
input layer, 8 neurons in the hidden layer, and 2 neurons plotted for different values of Pd ⫽ 0.3, 0.6, and 0.9 (see
in the output layer. The simulation model is developed in Fig. 6). Here we observe that the resource utilization
increases with the number of MHs in a cell.
During training of neural network, different learn-
Table II. Numerical Values for Parameters
ing rates (K ⫽ 0.1, 0.2) are chosen until the error con-
Parameter Numerical Values verges to a specified error limit. We have chosen the
error limit 0.005. In each case the learning error is meas-
Pd 0.3, 0.6, 0.9
ured while presenting the input data for training. It is
Pr 0.3, 0.6, 0.9
Td 2 to 20 time units observed that the neural network started converging after
Tha 5 a total of 1000 to 2000 iterations (see Fig. 7).
Th␷ 8 The results are taken for different values of thres-
Thrd 10 hold time for service classes with respect to the variation
Thnrd 15
of disconnection period and failure rate. The neural net-
BW 100 Mbps
Buffer 1000 Mbytes work is trained online to adapt to the volatile nature of
the mobile computing environment.
A Neural Network–Based Connectivity Management for Mobile Computing Environment 69

(a) (b)

(c) (d)
Fig. 4. (a) Interrupted MH success for Pd ⫽ 0.3. (b) Interrupted MH Success/Failure/Abort for Pd ⫽ 0.3 and Pr ⫽ 0.3. (c) Interrupted MH
Success/Failure/Abort for Pd ⫽ 0.6 and Pr ⫽ 0.6. (d) Interrupted MH Success/Failure/Abort for Pd ⫽ 0.9 and Pr ⫽ 0.9.

5. Conclusion
In this paper, we have proposed a neural network–
based connectivity management for mobile computing
environment to maintain the mobile user-to-user connect-
ivity throughout the transaction by maintaining the status
information of mobile hosts. The neural network is
trained offline with respect to the status information and
also trained online for different disconnection rate to
adapt to the volatile nature of mobile computing envir-
onment, thus facilitating an intelligent decision for
connectivity management. The simulation results demon-
strated that the proposed technique performs well in terms
of success ratio for disconnections and resource utiliza-
tion (bandwidth and buffer) for the volatile mobile com-
Fig. 5. Hand-off MH success for Pd ⫽ 0.3, 0.6, 0.9. puting environment.
70 Kumar and Venkataram

(a) (b)

Fig. 6. Resource utilization. (a) Pd ⫽ 0.3. (b) Pd ⫽ 0.6. (c) Pd ⫽ 0.9.

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15. R. P. Lippman, “An Introduction to Computing with Neural Nets,” ICCC conferences and workshops. He is a Fellow of the Institution of
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senior member of IEEE computer society.

Pallapa Venkataram received the M.Sc. degree in Mathematics Vijay Kumar B. P. received the B.E. degree in Electronics and
from Sri Venkateswara University, Tirupathi, India, in 1973, and Ph.D. Communication from Mysore University, Mysore, India, in 1988,
degree in Information Sciences from the University of Sheffield, U.K., M.Tech. degree in Computer Science and Technology with honors
in 1986. He is currently a professor of electrical communication from the Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee, U.P., India, in 1992,
engineering with the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India, and Ph.D. degree in Electrical Communication Engineering from
where he is involved in wireless access research and protocol Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India, in 2003.
engineering. He was with Hindustan Aeronautical Limited, Bangalore, Dr. Kumar is currently a Professor of Computer Science and
India, as a Deputy Manager (Computers) from 1980 to 1982, where he Engg. with the Jawaharlal Nehru National College of Engineering,
worked mainly on systems design for financial and material manage- Vishweshwaraiah Technological University, Shimoga, Karnataka,
ment systems. India, where he is involved in mobile network and computational intel-
Dr. Venkataram was a visiting scientist at the University of ligence applications research in association with protocol engineering
Maryland, Baltimore, and at the University of Montreal, P.Q., Canada, and technology unit, Electrical Communication Engineering Dept.,
in 1992. In 1995, he was a Visiting Scientist at the SK University, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India. His areas of research are
Anantapur, India. In 1998 he spent 6 months with Northern Telecom neural network applications in mobile networks, protocol engineering,
(NORTEL), Canada, on sabbatical. He is a governing council member, computational intelligence applications in mobile networks. He has
core research and development division, Indian Telephone Industries published several papers in referred international journals and confer-
(ITI) Ltd., India. He serves on several advisory committees and fre- ences. He is a student member of IEEE computer society and life mem-
quently consults to government of India and industry. ber of India Society for Technical Education (LMISTE).