The National Science Foundation (NSF) will present Mung Chiang of Princeton University with this year's Alan T. Waterman Award. Chiang is an electrical engineering professor who uses innovative mathematical analyses to design simpler and more powerful wireless networks.
This annual award honors outstanding researchers under the age of 35 in any field of science or engineering that NSF supports. Chiang's achievements will be recognized with a $1-million award, spread over five years, to help further his research.
"It is a great pleasure to honor Mung Chiang with NSF's most prestigious award designed to recognize outstanding young researchers," said NSF Director Subra Suresh. "Dr. Chiang's work links the worlds of theory and practice, and begins to close the gap between what is known today and what might be possible in next-generation wireless networks. His scientific contributions are certain to continue to impact our lives."
Chiang is the founder of Princeton's EDGE Laboratory, which aims to connect network theory and real-world applications. By developing methods for analyzing the often complex interaction between different layers of wireless networks, his work creates a principled picture of seemingly chaotic interactions and allows for systematic solutions to previously intractable problems.
His research has been applied to wireless network radio resource optimization, Internet congestion control, as well as wireless signal traffic routing and fair distribution of resources in cloud computing.
Chiang spoke of the important research this grant will enable. "To address the tremendous challenges wireless networks face to meet the ever-rising needs of their users, we must keep generating sharp, new ideas," he explained. "For instance, we will continue our work to dissolve 'traffic jams' in the air by better managing interference and by differentiating how we treat and charge bytes based on the characteristics of different applications. We'll use NSF's support to further develop mathematical languages that crystallize the architectures of network design and then turn the theoretical advances into deployable systems."
"In addition to his contributions to advancing the foundation and practice of wireless networks, Chiang is also devoted to inspiring and educating the next generation of computer scientists and engineers, who are key to America's competitiveness in our increasingly global, information-based economy," said Farnam Jahanian, NSF's assistant director for computer and information science and engineering.
Chiang is also touted as an outstanding teacher at Princeton University. He employs a creative Socratic approach to educate students about the common foundations governing the "networks that wend throughout modern life" in his undergraduate course, "Networks: Friends, Money, and Bytes." This course has drawn more than 65,000 students through its open online version since the fall of 2012.
In Chiang's words, "We cut through the buzzwords and get to the fundamentals. We teach the key concepts in networking that help formulate and address central questions, those that teenagers can readily relate to in their daily lives."
Chiang's textbook for the course recently received the 2012 PROSE Award in Engineering and Technology from the American Association of Publishers. It follows a just-in-time and interdisciplinary approach by asking 20 practical questions about the social, economic, and technological networks that people use today.
A fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Chiang received the institute's 2012 Kiyo Tomiyasu Award. He is also the recipient of the U.S. Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award, and the MIT Technology Review young innovator award, called the TR35. He joined the Princeton faculty after receiving his doctorate in electrical engineering from Stanford in 2003.
The Waterman award will be presented to Chiang at an evening ceremony at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on May 9, which will also be the occasion for honoring the National Science Board's 2013 Vannevar Bush and Public Service awardees, whose names will be released in the coming weeks.
Plans are underway for Chiang to deliver a lecture at NSF and meet with students at an Arlington County Public School during his visit this spring.