“ALOHA to the Web”: Dr. Norm Abramson to give 2016 Viterbi Lecture at USC

USC - Viterbi School of Engineering - Dr. Norm Abramson (viterbi.usc.edu)

“ALOHA to the Web”

Dr. Norman Abramson, Professor Emeritus, University of Hawaii

Lecture Information

Thursday, April 14, 2016
Hughes Electrical Engineering Center (EEB)
Reception 3:00pm (EEB Courtyard)
Lecture 4:00pm (EEB 132)


Wireless access to the Internet today is provided predominantly by random access ALOHA channels connecting a wide variety of user devices. ALOHA channels were first analyzed, implemented and demonstrated in the ALOHA network at the University of Hawaii in June, 1971. Information Theory has provided a constant guide for the design of more efficient channels and network architectures for ALOHA access to the web.

In this talk we examine the architecture of networks using ALOHA channels and the statistics of traffic within these channels. That traffic is composed of user and app oriented information augmented by protocol information inserted for the benefit of network operation. A simple application of basic Information Theory can provide a surprising guide to the amount of protocol information required for typical web applications.

We contrast this theoretical guide of the amount of protocol information required with measurements of protocol generated information taken on real network traffic. Wireless access to the web is not as efficient as you might guess.


Norman Abramson received an A.B. in physics from Harvard College in 1953, an M.A. in physics from UCLA in 1955, and a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Stanford in 1958.

He was an assistant professor and associate professor of electrical engineering at Stanford from 1958 to 1965. From 1967 to 1995 he was Professor of Electrical Engineering, Professor of Information and Computer Science, Chairman of the Department of Information and Computer Science, and Director of the ALOHA System at the University of Hawaii in Honolulu. He is now Professor Emeritus of Electrical Engineering at the University of Hawaii. He has held visiting appointments at Berkeley (1965), Harvard (1966) and MIT (1980).

Abramson is the recipient of several major awards for his work on random access channels and the ALOHA Network, the first wireless data network. The ALOHA Network went into operation in Hawaii in June, 1971. Among these awards are the Eduard Rhein Foundation Technology Award (Munich, 2000), the IEEE Alexander Graham Bell Medal (Philadelphia, 2007) and the NEC C&C Foundation Award (Tokyo, 2011).

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Author: Chris Aldrich

I'm a biomedical and electrical engineer with interests in information theory, complexity, evolution, genetics, signal processing, theoretical mathematics, and big history. I'm also a talent manager-producer-publisher in the entertainment industry with expertise in representation, distribution, finance, production, content delivery, and new media.

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