CAPTION A "percolation diagram" of the flight patterns of several major US carriers. Airports in red and their connections indicate a "structural core" that protects against abrupt breakdowns in the system. CREDIT Filippo Radicchi

New mathematical framework could help strengthen infrastructure resilience, mitigate disease outbreaks

A researcher at Indiana University has developed a new mathematical framework to more effectively analyze "controlled chaos," or how interactions among highly complex systems affect their operation and vulnerability.

The new method could potentially be used to improve the resilience of complex critical systems, such as air traffic control networks and power grids, or slow the spread of threats across large networks, such as disease outbreaks.

"By providing reliable results in a rapid manner, these equations allow for the creation of algorithms that optimize the resilience of real interdependent networks," said the study's author, Filippo Radicchi, whose work appears in the journal Nature Physics.

"They may also be helpful in designing complex systems that are more robust, or more easily recoverable," he added.

Radicchi is an assistant professor in the School of Informatics and Computing and a member of the Center for Complex Networks and Systems Research. His equations work by providing a new method to "untangle" multiple complex systems; pulling apart each network, or "graph," for individual analysis; and then reconstructing an overall picture.

A "graph" describes the myriad points and connection lines that comprise a complex network. In an air transportation network, for example, an airport might represent a single point; an airplane's flight path, the connections between points.

"In the real world, networks do not exist in isolation; they are always interacting with other networks," Radicchi said. "By unraveling multiple graphs, we're able to analyze each in isolation, providing a more complete picture of their interdependence and interaction."

The key to the equations' power is twofold. First, they are not dependent on the use of large-scale simulations, which are costly and time-consuming to run. Secondly, they are able to quickly and accurately measure "percolation" in a system, a term that describes the amount of disruption caused by small breakdowns in a large system.

"If you're traveling between cities by plane and 10 percent of the airports worldwide suddenly stop operating for some reason, percolation theory can help us calculate how many airports you can still use to reach your target city," Radicchi said.

A smooth percolation transition, as revealed though the equations, indicates that a system will stop functioning gradually as the number of local failures rise. An abrupt percolation transition reveals a system more likely to stop functioning suddenly after reaching a certain number of local failures.

"At that point," Radicchi said, "a system will exhibit 'catastrophic behavior,' from which it is very difficult to recover."

For an infamous example of an unstable infrastructure, Radicchi points to a massive blackout in his native country of Italy in 2003, in which the entire nation's power grid failed within a matter of minutes. The problem was traced back to control of the nation's power generators, which was dependent upon a telecommunications network that itself could not properly function without electricity.

"When the power went out, telecommunications routers also failed, causing further chaos and knocking out the Internet communications network too," he said. "These are the sorts of situations we need to be able to detect before they occur, not after it's too late."

In terms of infrastructure, Radicchi said the same methods used to detect vulnerabilities in a transportation network could also help create plans to reduce construction costs or shorten commute times. Or they could be applied to better understand other complex systems that remain surprisingly resistant to breakdown, such as the human body, the brain and social networks.

"We may be able to further optimize these systems too," he added. "For example, enhancing the spread of new knowledge and ideas."

The study, "Percolation in real interdependent networks," was published online June 15. 

San Francisco Public Library (SFPL), the Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California (CENIC), and the City and County of San Francisco have collaborated to provide unprecedented direct connection at 10 gigabits per second access speed to CENIC’s California Research and Education Network (CalREN) and from there to the world.

“The ability to access digital information is essential to every Californian and our remarkable libraries are places where access, the expertise of librarians, and a wealth of opportunities are available to all. Bandwidth should never constrain access and innovation in our libraries,“ said CENIC President & CEO, Louis Fox.”

This unprecedented access to the ultra-high bandwidth CENIC network will provide patrons of the San Francisco Public Library with access to the latest and best resources across a wide array of needs and opportunities in areas such as business, government, science, health care, and education — opportunities to engage, create, invent, and learn.

“They are breaking new ground here, and it’s great to see,” said John Beto, Director of University of Maryland’s Information Policy and Access Center, which conducts research on issues that govern access to digital information.

SFPL accesses city-owned fiber that is used to connect them to CalREN. SFPL has a direct 10 Gigabit connection to their main library. Seven branches now connect to the main branch at 1 Gigabit, with plans to connect all 27 branch libraries at this speed using city-owned fiber. From CalREN, San Francisco’s libraries are connected to California’s K-12 and higher education systems, to research and education networks throughout the world, and to the public Internet.

“In keeping with our mission of equality and being a 21st century library, this broadband increase allows our patrons to have the very best in access and opportunity,” said City Librarian Luis Herrera.

The Library’s new teen center, The Mix at SFPL, will greatly benefit from new broadband speed. The Mix at SFPL is dedicated to connecting young people with innovative technology tools such as 3D printers, video/audio editing software, fabrication, and other electronic tools to create their own digital or electronic art, to be involved in robotics, even to build their own drones, and to meet, socialize and collaborate with other young people who share common interests.

“The ability to access digital information is essential to every Californian and our remarkable libraries are places where access, the expertise of librarians, and a wealth of opportunities are available to all.Bandwidth should never constrain access and innovation in our libraries,“ said CENIC President & CEO, Louis Fox.

“San Francisco was among the pilot sites that preceded the Governor and Legislature’s ‘Lighting Up Libraries Initiative,’ which will bring additional broadband capacity to all of California’s public libraries. 389 libraries will connect starting in July of 2015, with a goal to connect all of California’s 1,112 public libraries in the next few years,” said Fox.

“Public libraries change lives. And the 21st Century connectivity that they are getting through connecting to CENIC’s broadband network is going to be transformative for all of California’s diverse communities.Already, 56 California library jurisdictions, including the San Francisco Public Library, and the Peninsula Library Systems, have the highest level of connectivity of any libraries in the country — a number that will grow over the coming months,” said California State Librarian, Greg Lucas.

Faster processing, more accurate information on lengthy trips, traffic snarls

Did the cross-country drive that you planned using an online mapping service take twice as long as expected?

In a new study published in the Articles in Advance section of Transportation Science, a journal of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS), Microsoft researchers working on a project for Bing Maps explain how they developed the first routing engine that satisfies a large number of algorithmic requirements that overcome barriers to generating directions on multi-stage trips like coast-to-coast drives.

Customizable Route Planning (CRP), according to the researchers, brings far greater speed and accuracy to planning routes with many stages, and more accurately estimates the time needed for turns, U-turns, road closures, and traffic snarls. The research also provides more accurate information for walking and bicycle routes, and identifies more reliable alternate routes.

Surprisingly, the research culminates interest in a classic algorithm published in 1959 by Edsger Dijkstra that was thought to perform too slowly to calculate online map routes.

The study, Customizable Route Planning in Road Networks, is by Daniel Delling, Andrew V. Goldberg, Thomas Pajor, and Renato F. Werneck, all employed by Microsoft when the research was submitted for publication.

"CRP incorporates traffic data and new personal preferences much faster - orders of magnitude faster," says Thomas Pajor.

"The resulting routing engine is a flexible and practical solution to many real-life variants of the problem, making it a perfect fit for Bing Maps."

Microsoft started using CRP for Bing Maps in 2012.

A key ingredient of modern online map applications is a routing engine that can find best routes between two given locations of a road network. Beneath the map that online viewers see, algorithms find point-to-point shortest paths in a graph representing the road network. Since the introduction of online maps, considerable research has gone into algorithms with two phases: (1) preprocessing portions of routes that can be used again and again, and (2) providing answers to pinpoint queries that are generated in a millisecond or less.

The authors write that a modern real-world routing engine must satisfy several requirements. It must incorporate every last detail of a road network - previous work often neglected time lost in making turns and observing traffic restrictions due, for example, to road repairs. The authors found that most methods have a significant "performance penalty," often due to the way that turns are represented. Also, a practical algorithm must calculate travel times while also factoring in shortest distance, walking, biking, avoiding U-turns, height and weight restrictions - and other problems that pop up. These new metrics must be calculated fast enough to match real-time traffic information with information about the roads. Updates to the time lost on road closures, for example, should be handled even more efficiently. The engine should support not only the calculation of point-to-point shortest paths but also suggest several alternate routes.

The authors found that no previous technique met all the requirements. By combining new concepts - using separator-based methods rather than the traditional methods that exploit the hierarchical structure of roads - with careful engineering, they significantly improved the performance in their approach, easily enabling interactive applications.

Another innovation - the explicit separation of metric customization from metric-independent preprocessing - allows Bing Maps to answer arbitrary questions about a trip in milliseconds.

In Round-Based Public Transit Routing, a paper published in 2014 by Transportation Science, authors Delling, Pajor, and Werneck, solved similar problems facing bus and train systems in London and other major metropolitan areas.

FSP 150-GE110Pro Series delivers new vision for access networks

ADVA Optical Networking has introduced a new Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) product family to the industry at the Open Networking Summit (ONS) 2015. The ADVA FSP 150-GE110Pro Series is a unique multi-layer service demarcation solution that has been specifically engineered to enable network operators to smoothly introduce NFV-based services. This new technology is built around openness, security and service assurance - critical components for NFV-optimized Network Interface Devices (NIDs). The ADVA FSP 150-GE110Pro Series is currently in trials with a number of network operators and will be commercially available later in 2015.

“We’re reaching a key juncture in the migration to service-centric networks. The decisions the industry makes this year will have far-reaching implications,” said Christoph Glingener, CTO, ADVA Optical Networking. “That’s why we’re launching our ADVA FSP 150-GE110Pro Series today. Over the past decade, we’ve developed a clear lead in the NID space and we’ve used all of our expertise and insight to take demarcation technology to the next level. Introducing NFV into existing networks is no small task and it’s vital that network operators get this right. They need NIDs that are capable of introducing Virtual Network Functions (VNFs) on central servers but also hosting those appliances on the demarcation device as we showed at the MPLS SDN World Congress earlier this year. We enable operators to host at any location, ensuring cost and performance optimization.”

The ADVA FSP 150-GE110Pro Series enables network operators to offer true multi-service access by combining the demarcation of Carrier Ethernet 2.0 and IP services in one network element. This single box also features ADVA ConnectGuard Ethernet technology - a security suite that is critical in an NFV environment to ensure that stringent privacy requirements are met. What’s more, the ADVA FSP 150-GE110Pro Series reflects ADVA Optical Networking’s commitment to building best-in-breed open technology. It has been developed on a fully open and standardized architecture, ensuring that it’s not limited to vendor-specific orchestration solutions. This openness is vital to network operators that want to build the best possible NFV platforms. 

“Every aspect of our new ADVA FSP 150-GE110Pro Series has been jointly developed with key network operators. Every step has been taken together,” commented Stephan Rettenberger, VP, marketing, ADVA Optical Networking. “That’s what makes our technology stand apart. Our number one position in the NID space gave us a head start on the rest of the industry. When we began developing our NFV technology, we already knew the critical components the industry wanted - openness, security and service assurance. These are the cornerstones of our product. The response to our new technology has already been enormous and clearly reaffirms our NFV strategy. It’s going to be an exciting few months ahead as we move from trials to deployment.”

Further information on the ADVA FSP 150-GE110Pro Series is available on SlideShare: www.slideshare.net/ADVAOpticalNetworking/introducing-the-adva-fsp-150ge110-pro-series.  

Chaoming Song, assistant professor of physics at the University of Miami College of Arts & Sciences, has been selected as the winner of the 2015 Erdős-Rényi Prize in Network Science.

Associate professor of physics Chaoming Song receives prize in network science at conference in Zaragoza, Spain

Chaoming Song, assistant professor of physics at the University of Miami College of Arts & Sciences, has been selected as the winner of the 2015 Erdos-Renyi Prize in Network Science.

The Erdos-Renyi Prize, sponsored by the Network Science Society, is awarded to a young scientist (under 40 years old) for their achievements in research activities in the area of network science. An interdisciplinary academic field, network science studies complex networks such as computer, social, biological, and cognitive and semantic networks. The field pulls on theories and methods from mathematics, physics, statistics, computer science and sociology.

The 2015 awards ceremony and corresponding lecture took place during the NetSci 2015 conference in Zaragoza, Spain. Song was recognized for the breadth and depth of his influential work, ranging from network applications of self-similarity and renormalization group theory, to the in-depth analysis of big data on human mobility. From theory to applications, his work impacts a wide range of Network Science areas, developing outstanding theoretical and modeling works.

As a statistical physicist, Song's research lies in the intersection of statistical physics, network science, biological science, and computational social science, broadly exploring patterns behind petabytes of data. A native of Zhoushan, China, Song received his B.S. in Physics from Fudan University in China and both his M.S. and Ph.D. in Physics from City College of New York.

Song joined UM's Department of Physics in the fall of 2013, hired through the Complexity Initiative as a network and complex scientist.

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