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UTD to Join Italian Research Project
First Manifestation of Collaborative Agreement Signed Earlier This Year
RICHARDSON, Texas (Oct. 29, 2002) - The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) has been selected to join a consortium of university and government researchers in Italy studying grid computing and high-speed networking.
The project is the first substantive manifestation of an agreement concluded last February between UTD and Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna, a university in Pisa, Italy. The agreement provides for joint research on advanced telecommunications networks and an exchange of faculty members and students of the two institutions.
The project is funded by the Italian government and involves researchers from the National Research Council of Italy (CNR) and the Italian National Consortium for Telecommunications (CNIT), as well as UTD. The only non-Italian entity involved in the research, UTD is a subcontractor on the project and will be paid 200,000 Euros (slightly less than U.S. $200,000) for its services over the next three years.
"We recognized the need to select as a research partner a top-level international institution with complementary expertise that is active in the area of network architecture and protocols," said Dr. Giancarlo Prati, head of Scuola Sant'Anna's Telecommunications School and director of CNIT, which is composed of faculty and researchers from 32 member universities in Italy. "The University of Texas at Dallas, with its ties to Scuola Sant'Anna and its long record of research activity and outstanding results in optical networks, was an obvious choice."
The research will be coordinated by the Pisa Center of Excellence for Photonic Networks and Technologies, a collaboration of Scuola Sant'Anna, CNIT, CNR and Marconi Communications, the global communications and information technology company.
As a part of the project, an innovative, very high-speed photonic demonstrator, named Metro-Core, will be built in Pisa. According to Prati, Metro-Core "will be at the forefront of the European research, allowing experiments not only on grid computing, but also on several other high-speed interactive services for the 'E-society,' as well as serving as a test-bed for new techniques for the next-generation, all-optical signal processing in communications."
UTD's contribution to the project will be directed by Dr. Andrea Fumagalli, associate professor of electrical engineering in the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science and head of the Optical Networking Advanced Research (OpNeAR) Lab (http://opnear.utdallas.edu) at UTD.
"We eagerly anticipate working closely with our colleagues in Italy on this groundbreaking research and hope that telecom companies here and elsewhere will be attracted to potential new applications that may result from the project," Fumagalli said.
Grid computing involves connecting computers, processors and storage devices via a network in order to gain better overall performance by effectively utilizing unused resources. Under that scenario, the computing power of a mainframe computer might be achieved at a vastly lower cost through such shared resources.
The UTD-Italian partnership will study grid computing done over high-speed optical networks, where voice and data traffic is carried via photons, or light.
According to Fumagalli, the high bandwidth of such a network could support large, complex computer simulations and models like those used in weather forecasting, as well as other science and engineering applications requiring high-speed computing.
Fumagalli said he and his colleagues at the OpNeAR Lab will be involved in both the theoretical study of photonic networks supporting grid computing and the creation of a high-performance photonic "test-bed" where field trials can be conducted.
Many of the 15 students and researchers associated with the OpNeAR Lab will be involved in some aspect of the project, Fumagalli said.
Since UTD and Scuola Sant'Anna signed a memo of understanding last February, a professor from the Pisa university made an extended visit to Richardson and a Ph.D. degree student from Pisa enrolled at UTD for one year. Many other such exchanges involving students and faculty at both schools are envisioned in years to come.
Under the terms of their collaboration agreement, the two universities could broaden their joint efforts to include research in the disciplines of computer science, informatics, biomedical engineering and microrobotics.
Scuola Sant'Anna is located in the Italian region of Tuscany. It is a public university that confers only graduate degrees, although it offers undergraduate classes in conjunction with the University of Pisa. The university has a total enrollment of about 500 students. It is a highly selective institution that accepts just the top five percent of applicants.
In addition to the renowned 16th century scientist, mathematician and philosopher Galileo Galilei, the town of Pisa counts among the alumni of its academic institutions eminent scientists (two Nobel laureates in physics, including renowned physicist Enrico Fermi), writers (a Nobel winner in literature) and statesmen (two-time prime minister of Italy Giuliano Amato).
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