Collaborative Effort Nets Award for Best Paper in Multimedia Communications

For the second time in only four years, the Computer Science and Electrical and Computer Engineering Departments at the Polytechnic Institute of New York University (NYU-Poly) have netted the Best Paper in Multimedia Communications Award from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) for "LayerP2P: Using Layered Video Chunks in P2P Live Streaming," published in IEEE Transactions on Multimedia.

This year’s winning paper—authored by Keith Ross, a professor in NYU-Poly's Computer Science Department, and Shivendra Panwar and Yao Wang, who teach in the Institute's Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, as well as students Zhengye Liu and Yanming Shen—describes a novel method for deploying live P2P or peer-to-peer streaming systems, which typically lack incentives for peers to share bandwidth for distributing data, such as videos, which consist of heavy data loads. The paper’s authors proposed a solution that incentivizes P2P sharing, bundles bandwidth availability and maximizes video quality. 

The project was a multi-year effort requiring interdepartmental collaboration, breakthrough ideas about deploying incentives in P2P systems, the creation of prototypes, and the subsequent testing of prototypes on a globally distributed testbed. The end product was worth the time and effort, however, with benefits accruing to fans of live Internet broadcasts.

Imagine, for instance, broadcasting the World Cup final over the Internet in real time. To do so would be hard on servers, says Ross. It would require large data centers, but in the system he and his team developed, one user might send the video data to ten users who then transfer it to ten others and so on. A network of carriers or peers, not a single provider, distributes the data, and depending on the connectivity, the technology "automatically adapts and gives the user the best possible video quality, given the Internet connection he or she has," says Ross.

While Zhengye Liu, who is the first author on the paper and now works for AT&T research, is happy about the award he and his team received, he believes producing the paper itself provided greater rewards. "More importantly, I learned how to be a researcher — how to formulate a problem, how to verify an idea and how to convince others that it's good," he says. "It was a very nice experience."

NYU-Poly Professors Yong Liu and Keith Ross along with former NYU-Poly post-doc Xiaojun Hei won this very same award in 2008 for their paper, “Inferring Network-Wide Quality in P2P Live Streaming Systems.” These and other honors continue to show that NYU-Poly is one of the top universities in the world in the field of multimedia communications.