The Abstract Research Lab in Carnegie Mellon University’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, headed by Dr. Brandon Lucia

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Jessie Foley with mentor Dr. Brandon Lucia.
Dr. Lucia won the 2015 Bell Labs Prize for his work to make intermittent computer systems operate reliably, while using only the tiny amounts of energy that they can “harvest” from their environment, like radio waves and indoor lights.

The Abstract Research Lab in Carnegie Mellon University’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering focuses on computer architecture and computer systems, in particular large-scale parallel computer systems and energy harvesting computer systems. The scientists there specialize in abstract research and do exploration into the boundary between computer architecture, computer systems, and programming languages.

Headed up by Dr. Brandon Lucia, the research team has developed a new class of intelligent computer systems that use novel hardware and software techniques to operate reliably using intermittent or unreliable power. These systems will enable application developers to create high-reliability applications for intermittent systems that will form an essential part of the Internet of Things, effectively extending the reach of computing, sensing, and communication technology into environments with scarce energy, such as inside the body and in space.

According to Dr. Lucia, “We make it easier for application developers to tell the computer what to do and we do that in the context of emerging technology. One of these emerging technologies (also the subject of Jessie’s internship) was something called “energy harvesting”. This involves tiny computers that can extract energy from their environment. You may have seen this in solar panels, they can take sun and turn it into electricity to run a computer.”

He adds, “We’ve been developing software run-time support, operating system support, new programming languages and ways for application developers to interact with systems. It should be as easy to make an application for your energy-harvesting device as it is for your iPhone today. That’s our goal.”

Dr. Brandon Lucia is the winner of the 2015 Bell Labs Prize for his work on OIC (operating system for intermittent computing).