Phase one complete – Sprite research team awarded $750K in DARPA research competition

May 31, 2018

By Christian Stafford

The collaborative efforts of College of Computer and Information Science (CCIS) Professor Guevara Noubir and Assistant Research Professor Triet Vo-Huu recently paid off after their research team won $750,000 in prize money in the first phase of the DARPA Spectrum Collaboration Challenge (SC2).

According to the competition’s website, SC2 seeks to, “ensure that the exponentially growing number of military and civilian wireless devices will have full access to the increasingly crowded electromagnetic spectrum.” SC2 competitors are tasked with the opportunity to develop and reimagine new strategies to access the RF spectrum, “in which radio networks will autonomously collaborate and reason about how to share the RF spectrum, avoiding interference and jointly exploiting opportunities to achieve the most efficient use of the available spectrum.”

According to Noubir, who serves as the Director of Northeastern University’s Cybersecurity & Information Assurance Graduate Program, the goal of the first phase of this challenge was, “to develop new types of wireless systems (from the radio to the network layer) that are spectrum efficient, agile and resilient,” noting that some of the important elements of the competition focus on, “new types of radios, machine learning and collaboration over unreliable channels.”

Sprite, Northeastern University’s SC2 team, comprised of co-leaders Noubir and Vo-Huu and CCIS PhD students Tien Vo-Huu and Hai Nguyen, was one of the top ten scoring teams that attended the competition, with each of the top ten teams taking home $750,000 for their outstanding efforts. The team, “developed new techniques for spectrum agile and robust wireless systems,” said Noubir, “these techniques are based on novel communication algorithms and [they] leverage the flexibility of software-defined radios.”.

This competition marks phase one of a three-phase competition, and according to Noubir, the Sprite team plans to put their prize money to use in working on phase two of the competition, which will be held in December 2018. First prize for the second phase of the competition is an additional $750,000 and the final phase awards an incredible prize of $1 million to the winning team.

“We enjoy participating in research competitions as they push the teams to their limits and provide a level playing field to focus on hard technical challenges,” Noubir said. “We won [SC2] in 2013, the MITRE embedded CTF “Mass Attack” award in 2017 and we were also one of the winning teams in the first Android Developers Challenge,” he said, adding that his team won $125,000 at the Android Developers Challenge.