Design of platforms for computing context with spatio-temporal locality

Ziotopoulos, Agisilaos Georgios
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This dissertation is in the area of pervasive computing. It focuses on designing platforms for storing, querying, and computing contextual information. More specifically, we are interested in platforms for storing and querying spatio-temporal events where queries exhibit locality.

Recent advances in sensor technologies have made possible gathering a variety of information on the status of users, the environment machines, etc. Combining this information with computation we are able to extract context, i.e., a filtered high-level description of the situation. In many cases, the information gathered exhibits locality both in space and time, i.e., an event is likely to be consumed in a location close to the location where the event was produced, at a time whic h is close to the time the event was produced. This dissertation builds on this observation to create better platforms for computing context.

We claim three key contributions. We have studied the problem of designing and optimizing spatial organizations for exchanging context. Our thesis has original theoretical work on how to create a platform based on cells of a Voronoi diagram for optimizing the energy and bandwidth required for mobiles to exchange contextual information t hat is tied to specific locations in the platform. Additionally, we applied our results to the problem of optimizing a system for surveilling the locations of entities within a given region.

We have designed a platform for storing and querying spatio-temporal events exhibiting locality. Our platform is based on a P2P infrastructure of peers organized based on the Voronoi diagram associated with their locations to store events based on their own associated locations. We have developed theoretical results based on spatial point processes for the delay experienced by a typical query in this system. Additionally, we used simulations to study heuristics to improve the performance of our platform. Finally, we came up with protocols for the replicated storage of events in order to increase the fault-tolerance of our platform.

Finally, in this thesis we propose a design for a platform, based on RFID tags, to support context-aware computing for indoor spaces. Our platform exploits the structure found in most indoor spaces to encode contextual information in suitably designed RFID tags. The elements of our platform collaborate based on a set of messages we developed to offer context-aware services to the users of the platform. We validated our research with an example hardware design of the RFID tag and a software emulation of the tag's functionality.