NSF award supports Corner's research on powering mobile computers

By Patrick J. Callahan

Mark Corner, assistant professor of Computer Science, has received a five-year, $400,000 grant from the National Science Foundation’s Career Development (CAREER) program to study data and power management in mobile computing devices. The CAREER grants support early career-development activities of those teacher-scholars who are most likely to become the academic leaders of the 21st century, according to the NSF.

Corner will be designing and building mobile computing systems that address power management, variable connectivity, and usability concerns. He will be using unique combinations of hardware and software and innovative techniques in measurement in modeling, and will be building real systems, in order to demonstrate the benefits of these approaches to users.

“The number of mobile devices is on a rapidly increasing trajectory, including millions of Bluetooth and WiFi enabled devices such as cameras, personal digital assistants (PDAs), cell-phones, and music players,” says Corner. “Along with this growth comes a data management nightmare: systems frustrate users with the lack of availability of data, complications in transferring data from one device to another, and limited battery lifetime.”

To address the power management issue in always-on devices, Corner says, he will be using connected low-power embedded subsystems. This enables mobile devices to enter low-power modes to efficiently provide data transfer opportunities. Second, because many devices frequently disconnect from their peers, it is necessary to use third party devices to transfer data updates. Using techniques from distributed file systems, as well as disruption tolerant networking, Corner’s research involves building systems that take advantage of mobility to transfer data between normally disconnected devices. Third, efficiently transferring data using mobile devices requires efficient operating support for storing carried data. Corner is building a file system that can store large amounts of data in the free-space of storage systems.

Many of Corner’s projects will be done in collaboration with other faculty at UMass and Mount Holyoke College. He hopes to use his work to encourage female undergraduates from the Five College system to attend graduate school, at UMass Amherst or at other institutions.

Corner joined the faculty in 2003 and earned his doctorate in electrical engineering systems from the University of Michigan. He co-directs the Privacy, Internetworking, Security and Mobile Systems Lab (PRISMS) with Brian Levine, assistant professor of Computer Science. His current research focuses on the performance, security, and usability of mobile computing systems. He has also made contributions in the areas of adaptive multimedia systems and broadband networking