A Distributed Approach to Context-Aware Networks: Prototype System Design, Implementation, and Evaluation (Computer Project)

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Utilizing context information and in networks, enabling network services to act upon context information, and exchanging context information with applications, constitutes an important new approach to designing communication systems and central to the research project named Ambient Networks. The Ambient Networks project is a part of the 6th Framework Project cofunded by the European Commission and carried out by industry and academia.

A system is said to be context-aware when it reacts to changes in context i.e., information which describes an entity’s current situation. This new approach enables developments of systems that are more adaptive to user needs and behavior. As a result systems can provide a homogenous appearance which is important as more and more different network access technologies arise.

This thesis investigates, models, implements, and evaluates a distributed context-aware architecture for Ambient Networks, the Distributed Context eXchange Protocol (DCXP). The solution is a proof-of-concept that shows how a context-aware ambient network can benefit from a distributed approach. The current design is based on a peer-to-peer architecture that forms an overlay to distribute context information among the participating units. This distributed approach was chosen in order to balance the load and also enable a device to easily locate and fetch desired context information.

The evaluation of the proposed context-aware architecture addresses the issues of how such a system ties in with the ideas of Ambient Networks. The main result of this report is a prototype enabling nodes in an ambient network to exchange context information. Moreover, the results show that the prototype needs to be refined in order to work in larger scale networks.
Source: KTH
Author: Swenson, Markus

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