Topics in Mobile Computing and Communication

CSE291 K00 - Winter 2017

Meets on M/W/F from 10:00am to 10:50am in CSE 2154.
The instructor is Aaron Schulman (aka Aaron Shalev aka Aron Shalev) and he lives in CSE 3120.
Office hours are M/W/F from 11:00am to 11:50am in CSE 3120.

Recently, mobile devices such as smartphones, wearables, and smart devices have overtaken PCs as the predominant platform for computing and communication. The shift to the mobile platform has brought with it a host of new challenges. Mobile devices have severely constrained energy capacity, their network connectivity is exclusively provided by unreliable bandwidth-constrained wireless links, and they carry a standard set of sensors that are seemingly insufficient for certain applications and also can inadvertently leak private information about their users.

In this course, we will discuss research that addresses the challenges introduced by the mobile platform by blurring the lines between traditional research areas in computer science.

As with many other research seminars, the course will be predominately a discussion of a set of research papers. However, we will also discuss the origins of these research projects, the impact that they had on the research community, and their impact on industry (spoiler alert: the impact on industry generally is much harder to predict than the impact on research). The course will also include a quarter-long project intended to be the seed of future publishable work.


This course will be mostly self contained. However, it will be useful to have some background in undergraduate networking (CSE 123) and operating systems (CSE 120). If you plan on working on a course project that involves embedded systems, you should either be a self-taught embedded systems hacker or have taken an embedded systems course (e.g., CSE 237A).

Grading Criteria

If you are taking the course for full credit (4 credits - letter grade), grading will be based on the following breakdown: Individual or group project (50%), paper notes and discussion lead (25%), and class participation (25%).

If you are taking the course for partial credit (2 credits - pass/fail), grading will be based on the following breakdown: paper notes and discussion lead (50%) and class participation (50%).

Instructions for Notes Assignment

Your discussion notes should serve the following two purposes: as a quick reference guide for the paper and as an outline of the discussion that you will lead in class.

You should answer the following questions about the paper for the quick reference guide:

  • What is the problem the paper addresses?
  • Why is the problem important?
  • What is the proposed solution?
  • What were the challenges that the authors faced?
  • How did the authors evaluate their solution?
  • What falls outside the scope of this paper?
(some text borrowed from Prabal Dutta's project proposal notes)

Your discussion-lead notes should consist of a list of the questions that you plan to use to seed the in class discussion.


Day Topic Details
Week 1: Introduction to mobile research
Mon Jan 9 Introduction
Wed Jan 11 Defining Ubiquitous (and Mobile) Computing (1) The Computer for the 21st Century
(2) Some Computer Science Issues in Ubiquitous Computing
by Weiser
Fri Jan 13 Discuss project ideas Project idea selection due next Friday (Jan 20)
Week 2: Mobile energy efficiency
Mon Jan 16 No class (MLK day)
Wed Jan 18 Classic work on mobile energy efficiency Energy-aware adaptation for mobile applications
Fri Jan 20 Project proposal discussion and finalize paper lead assignments (1) One-page project proposal writeup due Thursday at 10:00pm (please email it to
(2) Paper lead should be selected before class. Sign-up sheet will be posted here by Tuesday at 10:00pm.
Week 3: Mobile energy efficiency (continued)
Mon Jan 23 The most advanced smartphone energy model Fine Grained Energy Accounting on Smartphones with Eprof
Wed Jan 25 Challenging the accuracy of smartphone energy models Evaluating the Effectiveness of Model-Based Power Characterization
Fri Jan 27 Friday hackathon
Week 4: Efficient outdoor localization
Mon Jan 30 Predicting when a mobile device will have strong WiFi BreadCrumbs: Forecasting Mobile Connectivity
Wed Feb 1 Using cell towers as location beacons Energy-Efficient Positioning for Smartphones using Cell-ID Sequence Matching
Fri Feb 3 Friday hackathon
Week 5: Energy efficiency and indoor localization
Mon Feb 6 The latest and greatest technique for indoor localization with WiFi Drowsy Power Management
Wed Feb 8 Using LED lighting as location beacons Luxapose: Indoor Positioning with Mobile Phones and Visible Light
Fri Feb 10 Discussion on indoor localization & Friday hackathon Indoor Localization: Are We There Yet?
Week 6: Wireless power and novel applications of common smartphone sensors
Mon Feb 13 What smartphone sensors can reveal about the road Nericell: rich monitoring of road and traffic conditions using mobile smartphones
Wed Feb 15 Battery-less sensors can be wirelessly powered by radio signals (1) Design of an RFID-Based Battery-Free Programmable Sensing Platform
(2) Enabling Ubiquitous Sensing with RFID
Fri Feb 17 Detecting sleep apnea with sonar Contactless Sleep Apnea Detection on Smartphones
Week 7: Making sleep less painful
Mon Feb 20 No class (President's Day)
Wed Feb 22 Efficient short-lived tasks on mobile devices Rethinking Energy-Performance Trade-Off in Mobile Web Page Loading
Fri Feb 24 Friday hackathon
Week 8: Mesh networking
Mon Feb 27 Classic mesh networking work that spawned a billion dollar startup (that didn't end up selling mesh networking products) Link-level Measurements from an 802.11b Mesh Network
Wed Mar 1 Survey of the massive pile of existing work on mesh networking Wireless mesh networks: a survey
Fri Mar 3 Friday hackathon
Week 9: Security
Mon Mar 6 Unexpected information leakage from smartphone sensors Gyrophone: Recognizing Speech From Gyroscope Signals
Wed Mar 8 Mobile devices can secure medical devices They can hear your heartbeats: non-invasive security for implantable medical devices
Fri Mar 10 Friday hackathon
Week 10: Project presentations
Mon Mar 13 Project presentations (day 1)
Wed Mar 15 Project presentations (day 2)
Fri Mar 17 Friday hackathon