INFINE aims to design and to analyse novel communication paradigms, protocols, and architectures based on concepts of ultra distributed, information- and user-centric networking. The team is motivated by the recent and forthcoming evolution of Internet uses. Taking an information- and user-centric perspective, we envision networks as means to convey relevant information to users, while adapting to customary practices (in terms of context, interests, or content demands) of such users. 

Nowadays, we use networks not only to transport information from where it resides to ourselves but also, with online social networks, to determine what information might be of interest to us. Such a social recommendation functionality holds the promise of allowing us to access more relevant information. At the same time there is ample scope for improving its efficiency. Moreover it creates threats to user privacy.

At the same time, the physical context in which we access communication networks has drastically changed. While in the past, Internet was mostly accessed through fixed desktop computers, users are now mobile about 50% of their time online. In addition, while communicating machines used to be sparse and wired, with the advent of the Internet of Things we now evolve in a dense, interconnected environment of heterogeneous devices communicating via wireless and/or via wires.

This new context of Internet uses challenges several aspects of currently deployed networks. Some aspects pertain to the physical architecture of the Internet. In particular, at the core of the Internet, a drastic increase in volume of data traffic is anticipated due to the emergence of new applications, generalization of cloud services, or the advent of the Internet of Things (IoT) and Machine-to-Machine (M2M) communications. On the other hand, at the edge of the Internet, user mobility and today’s pervasiveness of computing devices with increasingly higher capabilities (i.e., processing, storage, sensing) have a fundamental impact on the adequacy of algorithms and communication mechanisms.

Other aspects concern the logical architecture of the network. For instance, currently deployed protocols at layers above IP must now carry massive publish-subscribe traffic, preserve user privacy, be social-aware, and support delay tolerant communications and paradigms for which they were not initially designed. Concerning actual content distribution, the avalanche of data and privacy concerns puts more and more pressure on filter/push mechanisms to provide users with relevant information.

Our general goal is to develop distributed mechanisms for optimizing the operation of networks both at the logical and physical levels of the architecture. While considering physical and logical aspects of networks, the INFINE team will pursue research activities combining theoretical and experimental approaches. 

In this context, INFINE team is engaged in research along three main themes:

  • Online social networking:

Large-scale online social networks such as Twitter or FaceBook provide a powerful means of selecting information. They rely on “social fi ltering”, whereby pieces of information are collectively evaluated and sorted by users. This gives rise to information cascades when one item reaches a large population after spreading much like an epidemics from user to user in a viral manner. Nevertheless, such OSNs expose their users to a large amount of content of no interest to them, a sign of poor “precision” according to the terminology of information retrieval. At the same time, many more relevant content items never reach those users most interested in them. In other words, OSNs also suff er from poor “recall” performance. This leads to the challenge: what determines the optimal trade-o between precision and recall in OSNs? And what mechanisms should be deployed in order to approach such an optimal trade-off ? We study this question at a theoretical level by elaborating models and analyses of social filtering, and validate the resulting hypotheses and designs through experimentation and processing of data traces.

  • Information- and User-centric Networking:

Despite the massive increases in transmission capacity of the last few years, one has every reason to believe that networks will remain durably congested, driven among other factors by the steadily increasing demand for video content, the proliferation of smart devices (i.e., smartphones or laptops with mobile data cards), and the forecasted additional traffic due to machine-to-machine (M2M) communications. Although this rapid trafiic growth, there is still a rather limited understanding of the features protocols have to support, the characteristics of the traffic being carried and the context where it is generated. There is thus a strong need for smart protocols that transport requested information at the cheapest possible cost on the network as well as provide good quality of service to network subscribers. One particularly new aspect of up-and-coming networks is that networks are now used to not only (i) access information, but also (ii) distributively process information, en-route. We study these issues at the theoretical and protocol design levels, by elaborating models and analysis of content demands and/or mobility of network subscribers. We validate the resulting hypothesis and designs  through experimentation, simulation, or data trace processing.

  • IoT and Spontaneous Wireless Networks:

The unavailability of end-to-end connectivity in emergent wireless mobile networks is extremely disruptive for IP protocols. In fact, even in simpler cases of spontaneous wireless networks where end-to-end connectivity exists, such networks are still disruptive for the standard IP protocol stack, as many protocols rely on atomic link-local services (such as link-local multicast/broadcast), while these services are inherently unavailable in such networks due to their opportunistic, wireless multihop nature. In this domain, we characterize the achievable performance in such IP-disruptive networks and to actively contribute to the design of new, deployable IP protocols that can tolerate these disruptions, while performing well enough compared to what is theoretically achievable and remaining interoperable with the rest of the Internet. Spontaneous wireless networking is also a key aspect of the Internet of Things (IoT). The IoT is indeed expected to massively use this networking paradigm to gradually connect billions of new devices to the Internet, and drastically increase communication without human source or destination –  to the point where the amount of such communications will dwarf communications involving humans. Large scale user environment automation require communication protocols optimized to eciently leverage the heterogeneous and unreliable wireless vicinity (the scope of which may vary according to the application). In fact, extreme constraints in terms of cost, CPU, battery and memory capacities are typically experienced on a substantial fraction of IoT devices. We expect that such constraints will not vanish any time soon for two reasons. On one hand the progress made over the last decade concerning the cost/ performance ratio for such small devices is quite disappointing, and Moore’s law does not seem to apply to this type of devices. On the other hand, the ultimate goal of the IoT is ubiquitous Internet connectivity between devices as tiny as dust particles, which is likely to continuously push these constraints towards extremes. These constraints actually require to redesign not only the network protocol stack running on these devices, but also the software platform powering these machines. In this context, we contribute to the design of novel network protocols and adequate software platforms, optimized to these constraints while remaining compatible with legacy Internet.