Junior Caleb Smith-Salzberg won the Best Paper Award for his entry, “Bridging the Digital Divide Between Research and Home Networks,” at the IEEE International Conference on Computer Communications (INFOCOM) in Atlanta on May 1. He had previously presented his paper on April 21 at the New York University (NYU) Research Expo held at the Tandon School of Engineering.
Smith-Salzberg’s project aims to narrow the gap between the top-notch internet connections that researchers usually have with the much poorer quality connections that average Americans have. “I created a tool that makes it easy for researchers to exactly mimic the internet speeds and connections of an actual U.S. household that is sampled from a dataset of over 10 thousand households,” Smith-Salzberg said in an e-mail interview.
Last year, Smith-Salzberg was admitted into NYU’s ARISE program, which gives high school students an opportunity to conduct search over the summer with researchers. Here, he began his project that would eventually lead to his paper. “I wanted to challenge myself with different coding problems and expand my knowledge of graphing and using libraries of code. I also wanted to work with huge amounts of data,” he said. His mentor in the program was Fraida Fund of the Center for Advanced Technology in Telecommunications lab at NYU.
Smith-Salzberg collaborated with Fund to finalize his research project during the summer. By the end of the program, he had programmed a successfully functioning script, and had completed his main goal. However, Smith-Salzberg and Fund continued to work extensively on the project after the program and the two worked together on Smith-Salzberg’s final paper.
Smith-Salzberg was able to first present his findings to field professionals and professors at the NYU Research Expo in late April. “It was extremely useful in preparation for the [IEEE INFOCOM],” he said.
A week later, Smith-Salzberg went to the IEEE INFOCOM conference to present his work. Out of the hundreds of participants, Smith-Salzberg competed directly against seven other presenters in his workshop, which focused on computer and networking experimental research.
Many of Smith-Salzberg’s competitors were graduate students and possessed more experience in the field of research. “I was very prepared for the presentation at the conference because at that point I had been pitching my project for around nine months. Making a presentation for a more professional audience was not very difficult,” he said. “I did not think I was going to win, and was super excited when it was announced.”
Smith-Salzberg is eager to see people using and developing his tool. “All the code is open source, so anyone can suggest edits or built on it, “ he said. “I [learned] a great deal about the importance of reproducibility in research, and taking note of everything done.”
He is excited about the future of the program and encourages more students to take advantage of the computer science program at Stuyvesant. “After spending the summer with many graduate students who major or minor in computer science, I can say Stuyvesant prepares you extraordinarily well for the field,” Smith-Salzberg said.