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Patented algorithm allows for establishment and maintenance of connectivity in mobile ad-hoc networks

By Fran Broderick

After more than five years of research, experimentation, and evaluation, professor Nirmala Shenoy has received a patent for her work in establishing an algorithm to create and maintain robust connectivity among nodes in mobile ad-hoc networks. The solutions so developed can be used in a variety of applications such as airborne networks, rescue networks and large sensor networks. Shenoy’s work, which was funded in part by Boeing and several Department of Defense grants, explored ways in which a network of moving nodes could continually change their connections and routes to the dynamics in the network topology. The solutions could scale to hundreds of airborne and moving terrestrial nodes.

“We needed to establish a network for nodes that are moving around. These can be soldiers in the field or unmanned flying aircraft that are communicating with them,” Shenoy explains. “Any node in this network can join and leave, so the connections and routes are making and breaking continually. We came up with a multi-meshed tree algorithm that can maintain connections and routes despite changes in network topology due to movement of nodes and the arrival of new nodes or the exit of existing nodes.”

The technology involved in applying the complex algorithm to mobile ad-hoc networks was the specific area of the project for which Shenoy received a patent. Her work can help teams establish ad-hoc networks in a remote field, and guarantee connectivity to hundreds of moving nodes. Among the grants Shenoy received along the way was a $340,000 NYSTAR grant to research the applicability of the novel approach to firefighting situations. “Firefighters are the type of group that need to quickly establish a network of communication that’s constantly adjusting to a situation in flux,” says Shenoy.  She began working on the project with area company Spectracomcorp, where she was first encouraged to pursue a patent. Shenoy was informed on November 13th that her patent had been accepted.