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Home | Seminars and Symposia | Past seminars/symposia: Tuesday, October 5, 2004

DTC Science and Technology Innovators Lecture Series

Seamless Mobility: in pursuit of the Holy Grail


M. Satyanarayanan
Carnegie Mellon University &
Intel Research Pittsburgh

Tuesday, October 5, 2004
4:30 p.m. Reception
5:00 p.m. Seminar

402 Walter Library


Effortless access to one's uniquely customized computing environment at any location is an old but enduring vision in computer science. The earliest realization of this concept dates to the early 1960's, when multiple "dumb" terminals attached to a timesharing mainframe allowed users a modicum of mobility. The four decades of computing progress since then have not dimmed the lustre of this vision. Today, many researchers in universities and industry labs are exploring how seamless mobility can be achieved in the pervasive computing environments of tomorrow. Why is this capability so important? Why has it engaged our attention for so long? Why has it eluded our grasp until now? What forms will it take in the future? I will address these and related questions in my talk, focusing on a specific approach called "Internet Suspend/Resume (ISR)." ISR is a mechanism that rapidly personalizes and de-personalizes anonymous hardware for transient use. As its name implies, ISR mimics the closing and opening of a laptop. A user can suspend work on one machine, travel to another location, and resume work on another machine there. The user-visible state at resume is exactly what it was at suspend. ISR enables a form of mobile computing in which a user carries no hardware, yet sees functionality and performance as if carrying a laptop. Our work confirms that ISR can be effectively implemented by layering virtual machines on a location-transparent distributed file system with aggressive caching.



Professor Satyanarayanan is one of the founders of the field of mobile information access. One outcome of his work is the Coda File System which supports disconnected and bandwidth-adaptive operation. Key ideas from Coda have been incorporated by Microsoft into the IntelliMirror component of Windows 2000. The Cached Exchange Mode of Microsoft Outlook 2003 builds directly on Coda's caching approach to disconnected and weakly connected operation. Another outcome of Satyanarayanan's research is Odyssey, a set of open-source operating system extensions for enabling mobile applications to adapt to variation in critical resources such as bandwidth and energy. Coda and Odyssey are building blocks in Project Aura, a research initiative at Carnegie Mellon to build a distraction-free ubiquitous computing environment. Earlier, Satyanarayanan was a principal architect and implementor of the Andrew File System (AFS) which was commercialized by IBM. Satyanarayanan is the Carnegie Group Professor of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University. From May 2001 to May 2004, he served as the founding director of Intel Research Pittsburgh, which focuses on software systems for distributed data storage. In this role, he was a co-inventor of the Internet Suspend/Resume approach to pervasive computing, as well as the Diamond approach to interactive search of complex, non-indexed data. He is the founding Editor-in-Chief of IEEE Pervasive Computing. He received the PhD in Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon, after Bachelor's and Master's degrees from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. He is a Fellow of the ACM and the IEEE.