the Next Generation of Computing and Communications
at Cornell University
This is a time of major change for the nation's universities. The rapid growth of the information-based economy, the increasing need for lifelong learning and the pervasive importance of computing and communications technology all have profound consequences for the intellectual fabric of the university. At Cornell, we are actively responding to the opportunities and challenges posed by these changes. Our efforts to build a university for the next millenium span all areas, from student life, to educational activities, to research, to administration. At Cornell, innovative teaching and research are playing an important role in transforming our university. For example, we were one of the first universities to provide high-speed network connections in every dorm room. We also developed the innovative visual communications software CUSeeMe, used around the world.
Our goal is to develop technologies for a new computing and communications substrate that provides access to "anything, anytime, anywhere". Achieving this goal requires advances in three areas of research:
low-latency, guaranteed-quality communications, which operate over variable bandwidth, asymmetric bandwidth, and wireless networks.
scaleable, reliable computing environments, which facilitate the development of distributed applications in the presence of failures, congestion and malicious users.
structured access to heterogeneous information, which enables data to be organized using the linguistic structure of text, the spatial structure of images, and the temporal structure of video.
At Cornell Computer Science, researchers are developing systems that address key problems in each of these areas.
We are partnering with industry and federal sponsors, including Microsoft, Intel, and the National Science Foundation, to develop an integrated computing and communications testbed. This will enable us to improve the scalability of our systems, provide a common code base for systems requiring components for different research groups, and evaluate our systems in everyday use.
Our goal is to exploit these new computing and communications technologies to develop a new learning environment at Cornell. This environment will make it easier for people to work together as effective teams, expose students to more problems with "real world complexity," and support multiple styles of learning. The environment will use high-speed communications networks and substantial desktop and server computing power to deliver information in ways that are more visual, more customizable and more interactive.
Over the next few years, we expect these new technologies to have a dramatic impact on students, teachers, and researchers at Cornell. In the longer term, we believe that our vision of a new distributed, interactive learning environment will serve as a model for universities, businesses, and government throughout the nation.