Optimal Strategies for Information Processing in Smart Systems

April 6, 2015
Speaker: Emrah Akyol, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Coordinated Science Laboratory, University of Illinois at Ubana-Champaign


From smart watches that monitor and communicate our vital health statistics, to smart cars that can detect a collision and automatically apply the brakes, advances in communication, sensing, control technologies have thrust society into an information age that is increasingly complex, and yet essential to modern life. However, the model of communication between point-to-point links, encoders and decoders with identical objectives that operate at unbounded energy and delay, as assumed in the early seminal contributions of information theory, does not capture key aspects of the emerging systems of this information age. Many new network applications are highly interactive and strategic, require very low delay, and are distributed in nature (peer-to-peer, mobile agents) and, hence, require the development of new smart systems designed via integrated approaches.

In this talk, I will address such strategic, resource constrained, and networked communication problems from the lens of information, estimation and game theories. Specifically, I will first dwell on the problem of networked source coding, in the presence of dispersive information routing, in which context I will introduce novel coding tools. These tools also provide new perspectives for the classical problems of network information theory, including the common information of Wyner and of Gacs-Korner, and the multiple description coding problem. The second part of the talk will address the strict delay constraints via real-time coding approaches, dating back to Witsenhausen’s early contributions. Finally, I will present a strategic communication paradigm where the better-informed transmitter communicates with a receiver who makes the ultimate decision concerning both agents. While the economists have extensively studied the Nash equilibrium variant of this problem, under the name of "cheap talk", I will present the fundamental limits of strategic compression and communication, within the context of the more relevant Stackelberg equilibrium that enables the use of Shannon theoretic tools.

Speaker Bio

Emrah Akyol received the Ph.D. degree in 2011 from the University of California at Santa Barbara. From 2006 to 2007, he held positions at Hewlett-Packard Laboratories and NTT Docomo Laboratories, both in Palo Alto, CA where he worked on topics in video compression and streaming. From 2013 to 2014, Dr. Akyol was a postdoctoral researcher in the Electrical Engineering Department, University of Southern California. Currently, Dr. Akyol is a postdoctoral research associate in the Coordinated Science Laboratory, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His current research is on the interplay of networked information theory, game theory, communications, sensing and control. Dr. Akyol received the 2010 UCSB Dissertation Fellowship, the 2014 USC Postdoctoral Training Award and is an invited participant of the 2015 NSF Early-Career Investigators Workshop on CPS and Smart City.

Hosted by Xiaodong Wang.

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