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Keynote speech

Title: A Mote it is to Trouble the Mind's Eye: The Next Decade of Sensor Networking

Speaker: Matt Welsh, Harvard University

Abstract: The field of sensor networking is now about ten years old, and the technology has come a long way. It has fostered a vibrant research community, and sensor networks are well on the way to commercial adoption. We have moved beyond the early days of the technology and, not surprisingly, many of the core problems are close to being solved. I think it's time to start asking the question, "What is going to sustain the community for the next ten years?"

Sensor networks represent a fundamentally new class of distributed system. They must operate at unprecedented scales, often embedded in challenging physical environments. At the same time, sensor networks offer the unique opportunity for computer scientists to engage with the physical sciences, medicine, and many other fields. We have tremendous challenges ahead as we move beyond low-level problems and start to apply sensor networks to increasingly demanding applications. We have hardly scratched the surface of the problems to come.

In this talk, the speaker will articulate some of the next big directions for our field and try to get some discussion going on where we need to shift our focus to stay relevant and inspire the next generation of students and researchers. This talk will draw on our group's experiences with deploying sensor networks for volcano seismology and rehabilitation medicine. I will also talk about a new effort at Harvard to develop a swarm of microrobotic bees, and discuss the implications this technology has for future complex distributed systems.

About the speaker

Matt Welsh is an Associate Professor of Computer Science at Harvard University, where he has been on the faculty since 2003. His research interests span many aspects of distributed systems, operating systems, and programming languages. His current focus is on wireless sensor networks, including new OS and language designs to enable efficient, high-data-rate applications. Prior to joining Harvard, he spent a year at Intel Research, Berkeley where he contributed to the development of NesC and TinyOS. He completed his Ph.D. at UC Berkeley and his B.S. at Cornell University.

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