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Alex Dimakis Receives an NSF Career Award

April 13, 2011 —

Alex Dimakis of the Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical Engineering has been awarded a CAREER award by the National Science Foundation (NSF). This award is given to faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations.

Alex received his Ph.D. in 2008 from the University of California, Berkeley. He received the Eli Jury award in 2008 for his thesis work on codes for distributed storage, two outstanding paper awards, the UC Berkeley Regents Fellowship and the Microsoft Research Fellowship. He was a postdoctoral scholar at the Center for the Mathematics of Information (CMI) at Caltech in 2008.

Alex's work relates to the novel use of network coding for significantly improving the reliability and cost of distributed storage systems including cloud storage systems. As a brief background, it is well understood that by "mixing" packets (for example by XORing), it is possible to significantly increase the reliability and efficiency of communication and storage systems. Coding methods, referred to generally as erasure codes and forward-error-correction codes, have had a significant impact on centralized storage systems ranging from magnetic recording to RAID storage systems.

Alex's breakthrough is in developing the fundamental theory when the storage system is distributed. This is highly relevant in modern cloud storage systems where thousands of storage nodes are connected over a network. The new theory develops a new paradigm for storing information reliably in a cloud. This involves the use of a new family of network codes called "regeneration codes." These codes are poised to have a significant impact in the way next-generation distributed storage systems are architected and deployed. Alex's research has spawned a huge body of work on the research and design of regeneration codes for distributed storage in both academia and industry.

Alexander (Sandy) Sawchuk, Systems Chair of the Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical Engineering said: "our department joins me in congratulating Alex Dimakis for his selection for the prestigious NSF CAREER award. This is an important recognition of his achievements and future potential for research in network coding and communications."