Keren Bergman gets as aggravated as anyone by how long it takes to email a video of her son's recital to her parents. Unlike most people, Bergman, a professor of electrical engineering and department chair at the engineering school, can do something about it.
Bergman specializes in optical data, and her central research project involves the fiber optic network--the portion of the Web that consists of optical fibers over which data can be sent in the form of light waves. Fiber optics can handle large files--including the huge files of high-definition video--faster than traditional copper wires. Even so, the fiber optic network as it is currently configured isn't very efficient.
"It's like one big, dumb pipe," Bergman says, adding that not much progress can be made if the pipe doesn't smarten up. Internet traffic around the world reached 176 billion gigabytes in 2009, according to a report from the networking firm Cisco Systems Inc., an enormous amount of data for a network developed in the 1970s for a few thousand researchers.Read More