Dissertation Defense

Systems for Challenged Network Environments

Azarias Reda

Developing regions face significant challenges in network access, making even simple network tasks unpleasant and rich media prohibitively difficult to access. Even as cellular network coverage is approaching a near-universal reach, good network connectivity remains scarce and expensive in many emerging markets. The underlying theme in this dissertation is designing network systems that better accommodate users in emerging markets by leveraging widely available resources and user patterns in data access. In doing so, it makes three contributions. First, it provides a nuanced analysis of individual content access behavior for web users in developing regions. The dissertation explores access behavior from two vantage points—logs collected at shared internet access sites in a developing country, as well as user activity information obtained from a commercial social networking service with over a hundred million members worldwide.

Based on these observations, the dissertation then discusses two systems designed for improving end-user experience in accessing and using content in challenged network environments. These systems deal with distributing personal content and routing bulk data in environments with poor infrastructure. Finally, the dissertation discusses the marketplace and service discovery considerations that are important in making such systems viable for developing-region use. In particular, it presents an extensible, auction-based market platform that relies on widely available communication tools for conveniently discovering and trading digital services and goods in developing regions. Collectively, this dissertation brings together several projects that aim to understand and improve end-user experience in challenged networks endemic to developing regions.

Sponsored by

Brian D.Noble