RLE News Articles

Keith Winstein and Faraz Najafi named recipients of 2012 Claude E. Shannon Research Assistantships

CAMBRIDGE, MA. 04.27.2012

The Research Laboratory of Electronics (RLE) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is pleased to announce that the 2012 Claude E. Shannon Research Assistantships are being awarded to Mr. Keith Winstein and Mr. Faraz Najafi, who are both doctoral students in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

Mr. Winstein’s doctoral research is being supervised by Hari Balakrishnan of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and CSAIL. Winstein’s research interests focus on wireless networking and mobile systems, particularly on Internet congestion control for non-traditional subnetworks. After several years as a staff reporter for The Wall Street Journal on science and technology issues, and then as vice president of business development for Ksplice, Inc., he returned to MIT to continue his doctoral studies. He has made two key contributions in the past year: the first is a novel architecture for end-to-end Internet congestion control, in which the endpoints work directly to achieve a specified goal. His idea of “inferential transmission control” may open up possibilities with Internet architecture, presently constrained by TCP’s potentially problematic assumptions, i.e., creating an endpoint algorithm that will successfully adapt. Mr. Winstein’s paper on this idea was accepted to the HotNets workshop the summer of 2011. Mr. Winstein’s second important contribution is the development of Mosh, a new mobile shell application that supports intermittent connectivity, allows roaming and provides speculative local echo of user keystrokes. It is built using the State Synchronization Protocol, which securely synchronizes client and server state, even across client IP address changes. Mosh is now used by tens of thousands of people, and Mr. Winstein’s paper on this system was accepted to the USENIX Annual Technical Conference in 2012.

Mr. Najafi is a second-year doctoral student in Prof. Karl Berggren’s Quantum Nanostructures and Nanofabrication Group (quantum.mit.edu) where he is working on superconducting detectors and nano-optics. His current research is the study of the fundamental physics of superconducting nanowire single-photon detectors (SNSPDs), as well as the design and fabrication of waveguide-integrated SNSPDs to attempt to optimize the amount of information that can be communicated via single photons. This is part of an effort to approach the Shannon limit for optical communication systems, and even to exceed it by using quantum mechanics. A past fellow of the German National Academic Foundation and the Elite Network of Bavaria, Mr. Najafi, for his thesis research, designed a cryogenic setup that allowed him to study the detection efficiency and timing performance of a new generation of SNSPDs. His results have been published in several journal articles including Nano Letters and Applied Physics Letters.

Claude E. Shannon, the father of information theory, served on the MIT faculty as a member of the Electrical Engineering and Mathematics departments, and the Research Laboratory of Electronics from 1956 until 1978. After Prof. Shannon’s death in 2001, his wife, Betty Shannon, launched a fund in his memory at MIT to support students doing basic research in communication. A subsequent donation from Dr. Richard Barry has made possible additional support for student research in communication. The selection of Mr. Winstein and Mr. Najafi was done by a committee consisting of Professor Vincent Chan, Profesor Muriel Medard, Professor Al Oppenheim, and Professor Yoel Fink (Committee Chair). The Shannon Research Assistant awardees will be honored at a luncheon later next month.