Building a Better Network


Keren Bergman
Professor Keren Bergman visited Boston University's Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering as part of the Distinguished Lecture Series in April.

Just fifteen years ago, internet browsing usually involved leaving the room to kill time as a dial-up modem slowly connected you to the world wide web. The process might have been painful but we didn’t know any better.

Fast forward to 2013 and these past connection speeds seem archaic. Still, that doesn’t stop some researchers from asking the question – can we be faster?

Professor Keren Bergman of Columbia University is one of those researchers asking that and she believes the answer is yes.

“It’s all about communication,” she said. “How do you get all of this data to talk to each other in the most effective way?”

In April, Bergman visited Boston University’s Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering as part of the Distinguished Lecture Series. She offered insight into one of her areas of expertise, optically enabled data.

During the lecture, Bergman discussed how recent advances in chip-scale silicon photonic technologies have the potential for developing optical interconnection networks that provide communications that are highly efficient and improve upon computing performance-per-Watt.

“With optical interconnects, it’s possible to build a better system that you couldn’t with electronics,” said Bergman.

As part of her work with the Lightwave Research Laboratory, some of Bergman’s other research centers around fiber optics through which data can be sent in the form of light waves.

“Compared to electronic routers, you can send a tremendous amount of data using photonic interconnects for computing platforms,” she said.

At this time, the fiber optic network isn’t configured in a way that’s particularly efficient, but according to Bergman, it has the potential to carry data faster than traditional copper wires.

In addition to teaching at Columbia, Bergman is an IEEE and Optical Society of America Fellow and serves as co-Editor-in-Chief of the IEEE/OSA Journal of Optical Communications and Networking.

Bergman’s talk was the third in the three-part Spring 2013 Distinguished Lecture Series. The lectures will resume again in Fall 2013.

-Rachel Harrington (