NSF Awards Grant to Anna Scaglione and Qing Zhao

UC Davis Professor Anna ScaglioneAnna Scaglione and Qing Zhao, both professors in the UC Davis Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, have received a National Science Foundation grant for their proposal titled “Online Learning and Exploitation of the Radio Frequency Spectrum with Sub-Nyquist Sampling.” Scaglione and Zhao, as principal and co-principal investigators, will receive $497,796 to be distributed for the next three years. 

Cognitive radio transceivers automatically detect available channels in a wireless spectrum, and then — via dynamic spectrum management — change transmission or reception parameters to allow more concurrent wireless communications in a given spectrum band at one location. Scaglione and Zhao’s project will enable cognitive receivers to better explore the online frequency spectrum, using the most advanced form of analog to digital conversion — known as Finite Rate of Innovation (FRI) sampling — coupled with the most advanced learning techniques. 

The work will build on the so-called multi-armed bandit (MAB) approach, which models the situation of a cognitive radio agent that attempts to acquire new knowledge, in order to optimize its decisions based on what has been learned. The MAB model takes its name from a famous exercise in probability, which concerns a gambler who encounters a row of slot machines, and must decide which machines to play, how many times to play each machine, and in which order, in order to maximize the sum of rewards earned through a sequence of lever pulls. 

Scaglione obtained her doctorate in 1999, at Italy’s Sapienza University of Rome. She emigrated to the United States to do postdoctoral work at the University of Minnesota, and then accepted brief faculty positions at the University of New Mexico and New York’s Cornell University. She joined the UC Davis Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in the fall of 2008. Her research interests include network science and RF communications, with a focus on optimal “smart grid” deployment, with respect to renewable integration and demand response, intelligent control and security enhancements. 

Zhao obtained her master’s degree in electrical engineering in 1997 at Fudan University in Shanghai, China; she emigrated to the United States to obtain her doctorate, also in electrical engineering, at New York’s Cornell University in 2001. She conducted postdoctoral research at Cornell through 2004, at which point she joined the UC Davis faculty. She also is a UC Davis Chancellor’s Fellow, and her research interests include stochastic optimization and decision theory in dynamic systems; statistical signal processing, algorithmic theory and computational techniques; and infrastructure networks, communication systems and social economic systems. 

The award comes from the NSF’s Division of Computer and Communication Foundations (CCF), which seeks advances in computing and communication theory, algorithms for computer and computational sciences, and the architecture and design of computers and software. CCF-supported projects also investigate revolutionary computing models and technologies based on emerging scientific ideas, while integrating research and education activities to better prepare future generations of computer science and engineering workers. 

Anna Scaglione: 
Qing Zhao: 
National Science Foundation: