Professor Jafar Awarded Faculty Early Career Development Award from NSF

Honored and recognized for his research on wireless networks with side information

Syed Jafar, assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science, was awarded the Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award and a $400,000 grant from the National Science Foundation in recognition of his research on wireless networks, specifically the “Capacity of Wireless Networks with Side Information – Theory and Applications.”

This grant is one of the most prestigious awards given by the NSF in support of early career-development activities for selected teachers and scholars “who most effectively integrate research and education within the context of the mission of their organization.”

Jafar’s research is specifically focused on investigating the capacity of wireless networks and the potential complexities encountered in working with wireless networks, including the application of side information.  By studying side information and smaller networks, Jafar hopes to apply his findings to larger networks.

"Wireless technology is essential for the much anticipated ubiquitous communication networks that will allow people and machines to exchange information anytime, anywhere. The technology will enable a wide array of applications ranging from fast wireless internet access, to smart homes and appliances, automated highways, emergency response, distance learning and remote medicine,” Jafar said. “However, a theoretical understanding of wireless networks is difficult because of the complex interactions between the network components.”

His CAREER award research approaches this challenge by focusing on the concept of side information, which allows the analysis of a subnetwork without completely isolating it from the remainder of the network.

Jafar was also a part of a 12 member “Young Investigator” team that won a $6.5 million grant from DARPA this October to develop a new non-equilibrium information theory for mobile wireless ad hoc networks. Participating team members include colleagues from the University of Texas, Austin, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Southern California, Notre Dame, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, Penn State, and Northwestern, who will work together for the next five years on the proposed project, "Re-thinking mobile ad-hoc networks: Non-equilibrium information theory." 

“While existing theory is developed for wireless networks in a state of equilibrium, mobile ad-hoc wireless networks are dynamic and transient in nature. In this project we will develop the theory necessary to analyze and design these mobile networks,” Jafar said.

The 12 faculty team members decided to work together based on their common research vision, which led to thejoint competition proposal.   Jafar will receive $450,836 for his specific part of the research project, distributed over the next five years.

Earlier this year, Jafar also received the 2006 “Engineering Faculty of the Year” award from the Engineering Student Council in honor of his excellence in teaching.  He was honored during Engineers Week at ESC’s annual banquet.  

For more information on Jafar’s research, please visit

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