Northeastern Part of New NSF Artificial Intelligence Research Institute

Kaushik Chowdhury, Tommaso Melodia, and Stratis Ioannidis.

The National Science Foundation announced the establishment of 11 new NSF National Artificial Intelligence Research Institutes, building on the first round of seven institutes funded in 2020. The combined investment of $220 million expands the reach of these institutes to include a total of 40 states and the District of Columbia.

Northeastern is part of a team led by the Ohio State University that was awarded $20 million over five years for the NSF AI Institute for Future Edge Networks and Distributed Intelligence (AI-EDGE). Professor Kaushik Chowdhury, electrical and computer engineering (ECE), is the Northeastern lead, with co-PIs ECE Professor Tommaso Melodia and ECE Associate Professor Stratis Ioannidis responsible for $1.8 million of the award.

AI-EDGE will leverage the synergies between networking and AI to design future generations of wireless edge networks that are highly efficient, reliable, robust, and secure, and facilitate solving longstanding distributed AI challenges. The focus will be on edge networks since most of the growth is expected to happen with wireless devices, services, and applications at the network edge rather than the traditional network core. These edge networks will encompass mobile and stationary end devices, wireless and wired access, and computing and data servers.

New AI tools and techniques will be developed to ensure that these networks are self-healing and self-optimized. Collaboration over these adaptive networks will help solve long-standing distributed AI challenges making AI more efficient, interactive, and privacy preserving for applications in sectors such as intelligent transportation, remote health care, distributed robotics, and smart aerospace. It will create a research, education, knowledge transfer, and workforce development environment that will help establish U.S. leadership in next-generation edge networks and distributed AI for many decades to come. AI-EDGE is also partially funded by DHS.

Apart from contributing to theoretical research that advances applied machine learning in distributed wireless edge networks, Northeastern University College of Engineering PIs will also help to demonstrate these outcomes within practical use-cases and community-scale experiential platforms. Specifically, Northeastern will lead two use-cases. The first is called “Ubiquitous and Immersive Sensing and Networking in 6G+ Systems.” It will generate, deliver, and process data from pervasively deployed multimodal sensors, enabling AI agents to become cognizant of the environment. The second is called “End-to-End Programmable and Virtualized 6G+ Cellular Networks,” which will lead to an unprecedented ability to control the entire network infrastructure end-to-end by AI.

AI-EDGE collaborators with the Ohio State University in addition to Northeastern University include Carnegie Mellon University, Purdue University, University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Michigan, University of Texas-Austin, University of Washington, University of Massachusetts-Amherst, University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign and University of Illinois-Chicago. It will also work with its industrial partners including AT&T, IBM, Microsoft and Qualcomm and the Air Force Research Lab, Army Research Lab and Naval Research Lab to translate the research so that it is widely adopted.

The NSF institutes are focused on AI-based technologies that will bring about a range of advances: helping older adults lead more independent lives and improving the quality of their care; transforming AI into a more accessible “plug-and-play” technology; creating solutions to improve agriculture and food supply chains; enhancing adult online learning by introducing AI as a foundational element; and supporting underrepresented students in elementary to post-doctoral STEM education to improve equity and representation in AI research.

Related Faculty: Kaushik Chowdhury, Tommaso Melodia, Stratis Ioannidis

Related Departments:Electrical & Computer Engineering