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Living on the edge: Allen School’s Sewoong Oh aims to advance distributed artificial intelligence for wireless networks as part of new $20 million NSF AI Institute

Sewoong Oh standing with hands on railing

In its latest round of funding intended to strengthen the United States of America’s leadership in artificial intelligence research, the National Science Foundation today designated a new NSF AI Institute for Future Edge Networks and Distributed Intelligence (AI-EDGE) that brings together 30 researchers from 18 universities, industry partners and government labs. Allen School professor Sewoong Oh is among the institute researchers who will spearhead the development of new AI tools and techniques to advance the design of next-generation wireless edge networks. The focus of AI-EDGE, which is led by The Ohio State University, will be on ensuring such networks are efficient, robust and secure.

Among the exciting new avenues Oh and his colleagues are keen to explore is the creation of tools that will enable wireless edge networks to be both self-healing and self-optimizing in response to changing network conditions. The team’s work will support future innovations in a variety of domains, from telehealth and transportation to robotics and aerospace.

“The future is wireless, which means much of the growth in devices and applications will be focused at the network edge rather than in the traditional network core,” Oh said. “There is tremendous benefit to be gained by building new AI tools tailored to such a distributed ecosystem, especially in making these networks more adaptive, reliable and resilient.”

AI-EDGE, which will receive $20 million in federal support over five years, is partially funded by the Department of Homeland Security. It is one of 11 new AI research institutes announced by the NSF today — including the NSF AI Institute for Dynamic Systems led by the University of Washington.

“These institutes are hubs for academia, industry and government to accelerate discovery and innovation in AI,” said NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan in the agency’s press release. “Inspiring talent and ideas everywhere in this important area will lead to new capabilities that improve our lives from medicine to entertainment to transportation and cybersecurity and position us in the vanguard of competitiveness and prosperity.”

Oh expects there will be synergy between the work of the new AI-EDGE Institute and the NSF AI Institute for Foundations in Machine Learning unveiled last summer to address fundamental challenges in machine learning and maximize the impact of AI on science and society. As co-PI of IFML, he works alongside Allen School colleagues Byron Boots, Sham Kakade and Jamie Morgenstern and adjunct faculty member Zaid Harchaoui, a professor in the UW Department of Statistics, in collaboration with lead institution University of Texas at Austin and other academic and industry partners to advance the state of the art in deep learning algorithms, robot navigation, and more. In addition to tackling important research questions with real-world impact, AI-EDGE and IFML also focus on advancing education and workforce development to broaden participation in the field.

Read the NSF’s latest announcement here, the UW News release here and The Ohio State University press release here. Learn more about the NSF National AI Research Institutes program here.