Biological Communication Channels: Engineered and Natural :

In assessing capacity of communication systems, we often seek to characterize the ``channel.’’ As the prospect of biological communication systems is nearing a reality, it is natural to ask what are the right ``channel’’ models for these new modes of communication? Understanding biological systems has the potential to solve problems such as building microbial fuel cells, enabling smart drug delivery and suppressing infection. These new biological systems can be viewed from two perspectives: the construction of engineered biological communication systems exploiting recent advances in nano-machines or the investigation of existing natural systems wherein a communication framework can enable design, control and enhanced understanding. In this lecture, both perspectives will be examined. In molecular communication, information can be conveyed via molecules versus electromagnetic waves. In particular, diffusion-based molecular communication most closely resembles conventional wireless communication. Diffusion-based systems do not require prior communication link infrastructure, but do depend on the presence of transmitting and receiving nano-machines. Several modulation and transceiver designs for molecular communications will be reviewed and the capacity of such links examined. Properties of diffusion and the inherent inter-symbol interference are taken into consideration resulting in novel channel models that necessitate new designs and analysis. From the second perspective, we examine the modeling of microbial communities. In particular, we examine the electron transfer mechanism in living cells and its role in cell-to-cell interaction. We describe a new queueing theoretic model for the internal workings of a bacterium. Preliminary experimental comparisons show a good fit for the model. Furthermore, we adapt our initial model in order to develop capacity results for bacterial cables which are akin to multi-hop networks in wireless communications. Informed by this model, we develop a new model for quorum sensing and wonder whether capacity statements can be made about such multi-terminal systems. Connections and comparisons to more classical problems in information theory will be made.

Urbashi Mitra received the B.S. and the M.S. degrees from the University of California at Berkeley and her Ph.D. from Princeton University. Prior to her PhD studies, she was a Member of Technical Staff at Bellcore. After a six-year stint at the Ohio State University (OSU), she joined the Department of Electrical Engineering at the University of Southern California (USC), Los Angeles, where she is currently a Professor. She is the inaugural Editor-in-Chief for the IEEE Transactions on Molecular, Biological and Multi-scale Communications. Dr. Mitra is a Distinguished Lecturere for the IEEE Communications Society for 2015-2016. She is a member of the IEEE Information Theory Society's Board of Governors (2002-2007, 2012-2014) and the IEEE Signal Processing Society’s Technical Committee on Signal Processing for Communications and Networks (2012-2014). Dr. Mitra is a Fellow of the IEEE. She is the recipient of: a 2015 Insight Magazine STEM Diversity Award, 2012 Globecom Signal Processing for Communications Symposium Best Paper Award, 2012 US National Academy of Engineering Lillian Gilbreth Lectureship, USC Center for Excellence in Research Fellowship (2010-2013), the 2009 DCOSS Applications & Systems Best Paper Award, Texas Instruments Visiting Professor (Fall 2002, Rice University), 2001 Okawa Foundation Award, 2000 OSU College of Engineering Lumley Award for Research, 1997 OSU College of Engineering MacQuigg Award for Teaching, and a 1996 National Science Foundation CAREER Award. Dr. Mitra currently serves on the following IEEE award committees: Fourier Award for Signal Processing, James H. Mulligan, Jr. Education Medal, and the Paper Prize Award. She has been/is an Associate Editor for the following IEEE publications: Transactions on Signal Processing (2012--), Transactions on Information Theory (2007-2011), Journal of Oceanic Engineering (2006-2011), and Transactions on Communications (1996-2001). She has co-chaired: (technical program) 2014 IEEE International Symposium on Information Theory in Honolulu, HI, 2014 IEEE Information Theory Workshop in Hobart, Tasmania, IEEE 2012 International Conference on Signal Processing and Communications, Bangalore India, and the IEEE Communication Theory Symposium at ICC 2003 in Anchorage, AK; and general co-chair for the first ACM Workshop on Underwater Networks at Mobicom 2006, Los Angeles, CA Dr. Mitra was the Tutorials Chair for IEEE ISIT 2007 in Nice, France and the Finance Chair for IEEE ICASSP 2008 in Las Vegas, NV. Dr. Mitra has held visiting appointments at: the Delft University of Technology, Stanford University, Rice University, and the Eurecom Institute. She served as co-Director of the Communication Sciences Institute at the University of Southern California from 2004-2007. Her research interests are in: wireless communications, communication and sensor networks, biological communication systems, detection and estimation and the interface of communication, sensing and control.

Registration: $100

(Covers shared room, full board, and lectures for all four days)