A World of Bits
Interaction is often defined in terms of
empirical observation about outcomes and relationships --
reactants move toward some equilibrium, momentum and energy are
conserved, elements of an organism ``signal'' each other
chemically, mechanically and electrically. These observations are
mathematically framed and the resulting equations often have great
predictive power -- which is the whole point of science. However,
any interaction is a communication and communication implies some
sort of information exchange, in essence a quantification or even
digitization of what is knowable about systems and their elements.
So, to any communication theorist trained in the physical
sciences, a basic question comes immediately to mind -- what
are all these interacting elements saying to one another, how
are they saying it and can I listen in?
Christopher Rose received the S.B.
(1979), S.M. (1981) and Ph.D. (1985) degrees all from the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
school, he joined AT&T Bell Laboratories in Holmdel, N.J.
as a member of the Network Systems Research Department where he
regaled his peers with levitated center conductor Hi-Tc
superconducting cables, annoyed them by showing random lightwave
network architectures performed as well as carefully sculpted ones,
and puzzled them with odd applications of cellular automata.
In 1990 when Arno
(Penzias) told everyone in "Area 11" to go to academe if they were
not keenly interested in the corporate bottom line (including his
Nobel partner Bob
[Wilson]), Chris was congratulated on his timing as he joined
the E&CE at Rutgers University the very next week. He was
a Professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering at Rutgers
University until 2015 and is now a Professor of Engineering and
Associate Dean of the Faculty for Special Initiatives at Brown
University. Chris is a Fellow
of the IEEE, cited "for contributions to wireless
communication systems theory" and has also served as a full member
of the Army
Science Board (2013--2014).
He has served as an Associate Director of the Wireless
Networks Laboratory (WINLAB) (1999-2007) and his current
technical interests include applications of
communication/information theory to just about everything including
biology, (nano/micro/macro)mechanical systems and tantalizingly,
maybe even supersymmetry through Jim
Gates' intriguing Adinkras
formalism as it rapidly
evolves. Chris is currently hoping that the early July 2012
discovery of "Higgs-like" particle(s) is a menagerie of
Higgs' rather than A Higgs. A menagerie might put SUSY on
firm footing -- and make it possible mere mortals (like Chris) to crash the party by climbing the
Adinkras scaffolding! Time will tell .... In the meantime,
here's a fun
talk he gave at ITA'13.
Past wireless interests have included novel mobile communications
networks, applications of genetic algorithms to control problems in
communications networks and interference
avoidance methods using universal radios to foster peaceful
coexistence in what will be the wireless ecology of the 5GHz U-NII
bands. This work, co-authored with Sennur Ulukus
Yates, received the 2003 IEEE
Marconi Prize Paper Award in Wireless Communications.
Here's a picture
of the ecstatic authors at the Globecom 2004 awards ceremony
(picture credit: Aylin
For fun, as an outgrowth of research on opportunistic
communications, he also considered the details of
a problem everyone has wondered about at one time or another:
how will our first extraterrestrial civilization contact occur?
The interesting twist is that it can be FAR more efficient for
distant "little green people" to send information-bearing
physical artifacts than electromagnetic signals -- seemingly at odds
with current SETI wisdom. This work was featured on the cover of the
September 2, 2004 issue of
Nature and can be found (along with an astounding
amount of press coverage, including a NY
Times Editorial!!!) under the tongue-in-cheek
communications. Here's an associated
Chris was certainly surprised by the Rutgers Engineering Governing
Council, a student group which spans all of engineering, with
a 2005-2006 Teaching Excellence Award in E&CE.
However, he almost fainted when told he had won the 2008-2009 Teaching
Excellence Award in E&CE. Lightning, it seems,
sometimes DOES strike twice! Apparently the free beer and
pizza served during every class is working well! In
fact, it seems to have worked so well that lightning struck THREE
TIMES with a 2009-2010 Teaching
Excellence Award in E&CE by the EGC win.
Perhaps a formalism is in order.
Theorem: Beer + Pizza
= Academic Excellence
Proof: 3 EGC teaching
award wins Q.E.D.
And it seems there's a STUNNING corollary for 2011 that actually
brought tears (manly ones of course!) to his eyes when
Corollary 2011: Beer
+ Pizza + BBQ = Universal Academic Excellence
2011 EGC Best Teacher in Engineering Award Q.E.D.
2013: Chris thinks that Rutgers ECE students might be
masochists. There's really no other explanation. His unrepentant
torture of tender young sophomores with an intro EE class in the
Fall of 2012 was rewarded with the 2012-13 EGC Teaching Excellence
in ECE Award. Or maybe they just love pizza and beer more than they
hate intellectual pain.
Seriously: Thank you (teetotaling,
at least in my classes ) Rutgers E&CE and SoE Undergrads for
your unflagging support! It means a lot to an (increasingly) old
2016: The Brown
Center for Student of Color was somehow tricked into giving
me the 2016 ONYX Society Award. I'm not
exactly sure what I did beyond the ordinary advising and
counseling to help move various initiatives forward, but it is
nonetheless deeply appreciated. Put another way, Brown
undergraduates are just amazing -- make a simple suggestion and
POOF it gets done better than you could have imagined.
Brilliant AND self-starting! What's not to love?!?!
Here is a formal (pure academic puffery) Curriculum Vitae in PDF format and
page (personal puffery). Here is some increasingly
ancient conference/service puffery if you're curious about
my mis-spent academic adolescence. Chris can be
reached at Christopher_Rose AT brown dot edu and also at crose
AT winlab dot rutgers dot edu.
Cool Presidential Lecture Series at
A Different Type of
After submitting a
proposal on communication
in biological systems to the NSF
CDI competition, I stumbled across this neat drawing
at the Museum of Modern
Art in New York City. The title is Art and
Nature, and the artist is Dudley Huppler. My
interpretation? Science is crisp and neat. Nature is
messy, composed of myriad inter-communicating actors.
Yet and still, organization not only emerges but is
uncannily repeatable despite the plethora of insults
hurled at biological systems by the world. The nature of the
code-to-structure/function transformation is one of the
"big questions" in biology. (The ever-popular "Are we alone?"
is another one -- next column over .)
A muse on whither structure/function by Nobelist Paul
pdf) appears as a recent Nature "Horizons" article, Life,
and Information. The gist? We need to
better understand information flow in biological systems
-- which is exactly the topic of the proposal, though
we're quite a bit more literal! (pun
My partner in crime for this research is Saira
Mian, a broadly knowledgeable computational
biologist at Lawrence
Berkeley National Labs. Our hope for this work
is that there are coding, channel, network and rate
distortion theorems in there somewhere -- perhaps even
transcending biological systems since at heart
everything is a network of
9/1/2008: The proposal has been funded!
are the reviews
(with which I very much agree in almost all
aspects). Thank you panelists whoever you
are! Your encouragement (and
suggestions/warnings) are duly noted and greatly
appreciated. We vacillate between exhilaration and
professional terror -- not a bad thing! Nothing ventured, nothing
12/12/2009: Update -- a pivotal, but devilish problem is
beating us about the head and face. However, we
sense it's tiring out.
Times profile of Mina Bissell and her work on
the relationship between tissue architecture and
cancer. Mina's work is what captivated me a few
years back. Those genotypically malignant cells that
stay quiet in normal tissue somehow know when they reside
in a normal architecture and when they do not. This
is an important (and new) communication problem if ever
there was one.
Bissell elected to NAS!!!! Stockholm next!
7/29/2010: Here's an animation
of (one aspect of) the molecular communication problem
courtesy of Ruochen Song.
things are so beautiful and precise that there must be a
mathematics that describes them. Information
theory is that mathematics. Tom Schneider,
The following "summary slide" that ties together the
above threads from biology to fundamental descriptions of
the universe lies somewhere between profound and
ludicrous, but it's so much fun I decided to post it here
Here's a fun
talk I gave at ITA'13.
Post-talk comments make me think it's time to write a
summary/tutorial paper to incite the roiling masses
of young communication theorists and reinvigorate
(overthrow!) the technical status quo!
Here's a crazy
paper that was allowed to sneak into ISIT'16.
Here's the corresponding
Standard Wireless Research
also R. Yates' page)
I've been toying (since at least 2003 starting with an
William Safire of the NY Times and following up with
an extremely weak talk
I gave at Google in 2006)
with the idea of doing research on the implications of the
fact that soon, everything will be recorded and very
little will be private. Think of Microsoft's My
Life Bits but with the ability to share and search
over the Internet. As a simple example of what's coming,
the following candid
was taken in Brazil at MWCN'01.
I had no idea the photo existed until a Google search on
my name turned it up (the site has since disappeared --
how fleeting fame! ). However,
imagine if zillions of these sorts of candid moments
(including audio) could be uploaded wirelessly,
correlated, indexed and searched by a Super-Google over
the web. Assuming symmetry of access and information
accountability (with the possibility of information hiding
by loggers -- or e-chroniclers),
I'm not sure that loss of public privacy is such a bad
idea. But it does give one pause to think that every
public (and many an ostensibly private) moment could be
subject to public scrutiny. Nonetheless, I see this not as
"Big Brother" but more as "Everything In The Light Of Day"
a la Rodney King (and, obviously, others) where the
watched can watch the watchers. Steve Mann
at the University of Toronto has coined the rather neat
for this sort of system (as opposed to SURveillance).
UPDATE Fall 2016: Just discovered "Black
Mirror" on Netflix. See season 1 episode 3 .
Perhaps even more interesting, see season 2 episode 1 and
imagine a merge with the S1E3 storyline.
I recently submitted an NSF proposal which was declined,
but I thought the reviews were especially helpful. As it
is with these things, we often feel the reviewer might
possibly have missed the point (see comment about
characterizing moving foliage on trees being infeasible --
I AGREE, but if so, that still tells you something about
the channel estimation problem ).
However, objectively speaking, the reviewer might also be
pointing out that I missed
the point -- the practicality of the approach might be nil
for most real-world systems -- but still offered helpful
suggestions, I thought.
Anyone who wants to run with (or deride) the idea is
welcome to do so. I'm thinking I'll post all proposals
and subsequent reviews here as a public service (maybe
particularly helpful to new faculty if only as an
example of what not
to do if you want to get funded ).
Well Can We Know a MIMO Channel?
of bounced proposal
Just TOO COOL!
Here's one of my FAVORITE Nova
segments on an up and coming ex-M.I.T. engineer
McLurkin when he was a "kid".
Yes, an engineer can truly have it
Nature Magazine Cover Story
Caroline Angelo's cartoon
OZMA at 50 Workshop
We clock in as reason #35 in this latest edition of
weighs in via The
(pp. 222-225, courtesy, Rich Howard)
National Radio Astronomy Observatory
Ozma at 50 Workshop
The SETI Institute
Mount a cheap directional
antenna to a mobile platform, add ultrasonic sensors
and student ingenuity and what to you get? Pure
design delight! Here's the project
it out in action on YouTube!
USEFUL FOR SESSION CHAIRS!!!
Spectrum Policy Outreach:
Talks & Papers
Random Journal Papers
Letter 431, pp.47--49, September 2, 2004. Supplementary
Paging/Registration: A Greedy Approach, IEEE
Transactions on VehicularTechnology, January 1999,
IEEE Transactions on Vehicular Technology, November
1998, 47(4), pp.1251-1257.
, IEEE Communications Magazine, 35(2), February
Strategies for Increased Paging Capacity, ACM
Journal of Wireless Networks 3(2), pp.159--167 (1997).
Applied to Cellular Call Admission Problem: Local
Policies , IEEE Transactions on Vehicular
Technology, 46(1), February (1997).
of a Mobile Assisted Adaptive Location Management
Strategy, ACM Mobile Networks and Applications
(MONET) 1(2) pp.105--112 (1996).
and Call Admission to Telecommunications Networks,
Computers and Operations Research 23(5), pp.485--499
Average Cost of Paging and Registration: a timer-based
method, ACM Journal of Wireless Networks 2(2),
Average Cost of Paging Under Delay Constraints, ACM
Journal of Wireless Networks, 1(2), pp.211--219 (1995).
Arrivals to Queues for Minimum Average Blocking: the
S(n)/M/C/C System, Computers and Operations
Research, 22(8), pp.793-806, (1995)
Dielectric-Free Superconducting Coaxial Cable ,
IEEE Trans. MTT 38(2):166-177 (1990) with Mike Ganz.
[ONE OF MY PERSONAL FAVORITES!! The main idea is to
levitate the center conductor and thereby avoid using a
lossy dielectric support. Conceived during the euphoria
after the discovery of high TC superconductors. Current
densities of high TC materials are still too low for this
to be feasible, but it was fun to dream ]
Optimal Scheduling for Time-Multiplex Switches Using A
Cellular Automaton, IEEE Trans. Comm. 37(5):500-509
(1989) [ANOTHER ONE OF MY FAVORITES !! Basic idea is to
allow a set of autonomous simple and simply connected
computers rapidly calculate "diagonals", also called
"systems of distinct representatives", for a given offered
Distance in Multihop Store & Forward Networks ,
IEEE Trans. Comm. 40(8):1310-1318 (1992). This paper
(and the next one) was in response to the "network of the
week" craze (that was driving me crazy). The basic
idea is that random networks do very well in terms
of connectivity and in terms of having low mean distance
(hops) between nodes -- a measure of how efficient a
Mean Internodal Distance Networks Topologies and
Simulated Annealing , IEEE Trans. Comm.
Performance of Random and Optimal Scheduling in a
, IEEE Trans. Comm. 35(8):813-317 (1987). My
very first paper EVER! Written with Mike Hluchyj, founder
of SONUS Networks.
Bragging About Family and Friends
My sister, Tricia Rose, the academic
star now at Brown
University and popular culture maven (Google
Search). Here's Tricia's
founding President (1999-2009) of the Goldman Sachs
Foundation and the second ever Black woman Goldman Sachs
Managing Director. Now a Senior
Managing Director at TIAA-CREF and Head of the TIAA-CREF
Search). She's also rather connected, according to Crain's
New York Business.
Evan Rose, tried to become "The
Future of Night Life" with his startup
Nite-Fly. He found that nightlife providers are a scary
bunch -- most such businesses fail within a year or so, so
they're not exactly forward looking. He (and we -- looking to
retire early ) are much more hopeful
about Evan's current business. He's essentially seeking to
become a hitech headhunter who provides various companies with
what they need -- smart employees. In the process he's become
a rather good web developer! Check out e-cruit and this recent
Post profile on entrepreneurs (he's #15 ).
Former student, Randal Pinkett,
founder of BCT Partners
and the Donald Trump Season 4
Search) was absolutely spectacular as an undergraduate
in our department -- I remember him most for never letting us
see him sweat -- even when I made up an exam just for him
(though I gave the exam to the whole class ).
So, he's always been preternaturally graceful under pressure.
Randal went on to an even more spectacular academic career
(Rhodes Scholar, MBA and Ph.D. from M.I.T.) and was clearly
the best candidate The Apprentice had ever seen. In fact, I
found it puzzling how much hand wringing was done over which
of the two final candidates to hire -- there really was no
other choice. Perhaps they manufactured a bit of theater? Here's Randal's
James Gates, Jr., the John S. Toll Professor of Physics
at UMD, has been appointed to President Obama's Council of Advisors on
Science and Technology (PCAST for short). In
December 2012 he was named
as a National Medal of Science winner. Jim
was actually a "big brother" (and a legend) for close to a
generation of students who came through MIT in the '70s and
early '80s. (Shirley
Jackson -- current president of RPI -- is another MIT
legend who's been appointed to the PCAST as well). Jim
is an amateur Einstein historian who focuses on Einstein's
stance on human rights. Jim also has ideas on diversity
in the STEM fields, espoused in a talk
at Rutgers in February 2011. Want more
information? Both Jim
have Wikipedia pages.
My "Brother" Emery
Brown is a big deal professor in the Harvard/MIT
program in Cambridge. We were antipodal undergrads (Emery was
a Harvard brat while I was an MIT gnerd) and graduate students
together. We also vied for lifer status (Emery won that
one ). His area is anesthesiology as this
Times Profile shows. However, what many do not
realize is that Emery's main research passion is something
that knocks directly on the door of one of the biggest Big
Questions there is: what is consciousness?
Emery's experimental work considers how mental state relates
to measurable electrical phenomena in the brain -- of rats, so
there's no need to go out and buy helmets and tin foil hats
... yet. And as you might have already guessed, Em has a
Coleman is a newly minted Associate Professor with
Tenure at UCSD in Bioengineering after successfully luring him
from the corn (UIUC). He is a true academic star and
not only scary smart, but scary driven and scary savvy.
Here's a nice recent
profile of Todd. His area is information theory
applied to biological (mostly electrical) signals.
Whether he wins a Nobel or creates a business empire only time
will tell. Here's a recent Science paper of his
that's causing somewhat of a rage in non-invasive
bioelectrical signal sensing. I suspect a few more of
these types of bombshells will be forthcoming soon. I'm
delightedly proud (and somewhat in awe) of Todd.
My other "Little Brother" John
Asher Johnson is pretty fantastic too. He's one of
those planet hunting
astrophysicists and was recently plucked from Cal Tech
as a 3-year-in assistant professor into a tenured full
professorship at Harvard. In addition, Harvard is
supporting his push to develop an astrophysics institute,
aimed at developing a pipeline of URM astrophysicists. And
yeah, he has a wikipedia
page too, even at his tender young age.
Out of This World (prize-winning, believe it or not!)
by Nick Romanenko of Rutgers
Updated: October 30th, 2016