CSIRO-Macquarie Chair in Wireless Communications

The SIEF Chair was funded over the seven-year period 2012-2018. It provided salary and research support for Professor Stephen Hanly, with the aim of building up a group in wireless communications at Macquarie University, collaborating closely with CSIRO, as well as teaching and leadership within the Department of Engineering at Macquarie University.

Professor Hanly’s research was focused on cutting-edge research on next generation wireless communications, providing a research vision for the upcoming 5G wireless networks. Today’s needs are completely different from those envisaged by the WiFi pioneers in the 1990s, including a proliferation of sensing devices – the “internet of things” – and new low latency mission-critical applications, for example in medicine, in transport and in smart electricity grids.

In 2014, Professor Hanly authored a paper “What Will 5G be?”, co-authored with J. G. Andrews, S. Buzzi, W. Choi, A. Lozano, A. C. K. Soong, and J. C. Zhang, published in IEEE Journal on Selected Areas in Communications, Special Issue on 5G Wireless Communication Systems, Vol.32, No. 6, pp. 1065-1082, June 2014. We provided new insights into the algorithms and technologies required to deliver the orders of magnitude changes (higher data rates and lower latencies) required of future 5G wireless networks. These included massive cell densification and associated interference management techniques; novel wireless communications techniques for transmissions at mm-wave wavelengths, opening up massive bandwidths at extremely high frequencies; massive multi-user MIMO, and massive multiple access, allowing the development of an Internet of Things; and spectrum sharing and spectrum allocation. This paper has had an enormous influence on research in 5G, having been cited 4,136 times to date (Google Scholar, February 12, 2019).

One focus of the CSIRO-Macquarie University Chair on Wireless Communications has been on the optimal allocation of wireless resources, including spectrum. Each user is allotted a small slice of the electromagnetic spectrum, but there are vastly more potential users than bands available – the so-called “spectrum crunch”. The problem with so many connections is that the systems have become so complex that existing methodologies for capacity planning are becoming unusable. We have developed a capacity analysis making it possible to analyse the cost-benefit of picocells for the first time. This result was published in a paper “Capacity and Stable Scheduling in Heterogeneous Wireless Networks”, co-authored by S.V. Hanly, C. Liu, P. Whiting, “and published in IEEE Journal on Selected Areas in Communications, Special issue on Recent Advances in Heterogeneous Cellular Networks, Vol 33, No. 6, pp1266-1279, June 2015. A by-product from this research are algorithms for optimally controlling the networks – optimizing the proportion of time to be allocated to the pico-cells and the optimal rules for connecting mobiles to network base stations. We are currently engaged in seeking commercial opportunities from this research, including the development of a capacity planning tool.

The group has developed a novel technique for coordinating transmissions in a multi-cell network equipped with multi-user MIMO, as anticipated for future 5G networks. We have provided the first results on scheduling in a multi-cell context, where interference management between cells is required. We uncovered the structure for optimal scheduling, and derived theoretical performance bounds to predict the performance of the policies proposed. These results are published in the paper “Multicell Coordinated Scheduling with Multiuser Zero-forcing Beamforming”, co-authored by M. Li, I.B. Collings, S.V. Hanly, C. Liu, P. Whiting, and published in IEEE Transactions on Wireless Communications, Vol. 15, No. 2, pp. 827 – 842, Feb, 2016.

A new spatial scanning beamforming protocol was developed for base stations to use in mm-wave networks to overcome the massive path-loss that occurs in the mm-wave frequency band. We have shown that if the coverage area is open, then omni-directional transmission (which is the standard approach in current cellular networks) is optimal, but if there is blockage in some directions (typical at mm-wave frequencies) then omnidirectional transmission is suboptimal. We have developed an optimization approach to match the beamformers to the measured coverage topology. These results are published in the papers “Design and Analysis of Transmit Beamforming for Millimetre Wave Base Station Discovery,” co-authored by C. Liu , M. Li, I.B. Collings, S.V. Hanly, P. Whiting, and published in IEEE Transactions on Wireless Communications, Vol. 16, No. 2, pp. 797-811, Feb, 2017, and “Millimeter Wave Beam Alignment: Large Deviations Analysis and Design Insights,’’ co-authored by C. Liu; M. Li; S. V. Hanly; I. B. Collings; P. Whiting, and published in IEEE Journal on Selected Areas in Communications, Vol. 35, No. 7, pp. 1619-1631, July, 2017.

In collaboration with Telstra, a software tool has been developed to optimize the performance of Telstra’s 4G wireless network using big data generated in their network. 4G wireless networks are incredibly complex systems, involving thousands of measurable counters, and derived key performance indicators. It is a major challenge to optimize the network based on real-time analysis of such big, time-varying data sets. The tool is currently used in Telstra’s network management operations, and we are receiving very positive feedback concerning its performance. There is an on-going performance trial of this tool that will provide important data for future work on improving the tool. This is a major project going forward, and we anticipate upgrading the tool for use in Telstra’s future 5G network.

Distinctions and Awards

  • Elevated to IEEE Fellow 2017 for contributions to capacity analysis and optimization of wireless communication networks
  • IEEE Communications Society Best Tutorial Paper Award in 2015 to the paper “Multi-cell MIMO cooperative networks: A new look at interference”, co-authored by D. Gesbert, S.V. Hanly, H. Huang, S. Shamai, O. Simeone, W. Yu, published in IEEE Journal on Selected Areas, Vol 28, No 9, pp1380-1408, 2010.
  • 12,249 citations on Google Scholar, February 12, 2019.

Research Leadership and Research Grant Success

  •  A total of $2.245M in external funding (in addition to the SIEF and MQ funding), including $1.478M from Australian Research Council, $267K from Data 61, and $500K from Telstra.
  • Research group building from 2 research fellows in 2012 to 6 research fellows, 2 PhD students, and 2 MRES students in 2018. 1 PhD completion and 3 MRes completions during this period.
  • ARC discovery grant 2013-15 ($470,000) – Overcoming the Wireless Throughput Bottleneck: New Heterogeneous Architectures and Algorithms for High Data Rate Mobile Broadband (S. Hanly, M. Reed).
  • ARC discovery grant 2015-17 ($444,000) – What to do about WiFi congestion? New methods for dense wireless networks (S. Hanly, P. Whiting).
  • ARC Discovery Grant 2018-20 ($350,000) – Information-theoretic capacity of outdoor mm-wave wireless communications (S. Hanly, I. Collings, P. Whiting).
  • ARC Discovery Early Career Research grant (DECRA) 2018-2020 ($324,000) Sparse link discovery for mobile millimeter-wave communications (Dr Chunshan Liu)
  • Macquarie University Research Fellowship (MQRF) 2018-2020 ($350,000) Covert Wireless Communications (Dr Shihao Yan)
  • Research contract with Telstra 2016-19 ($500,000) 4G Network Optimization software tool.
  • Research contract with Data 61 2017-19 ($267,000) WiFi localisation and mapping project (joint with Data 61 and DST) plus $130K co-funding from MQ
  • Led a bid for an interdisciplinary ARC Centre of Excellence on Spectrum Economics and Wireless Technologies, involving four Australian Universities, the CSIRO, the ACMA, and several prestigious international universities, which was shortlisted for a full proposal and was interviewed in Canberra in November 2013, but was unfortunately unsuccessful.

Keynotes and Invited Talks

  • Keynote talk at Australian Communication Theory workshop (AusCTW) February 2013, University of South Australia
  • Invited lecturer at the Australian Information Theory School, University of Sydney, February, 2019
  • Numerous invited talks, including several at Information Theory and its Applications (ITA) Workshops (UCSD, San Diego); at the Australian Communication Theory workshops; an invited talk at the 2015 Hong Kong – Taiwan Information Theory Joint Workshop on Information Theory and Communications, City University of Hong Kong, January, 2015; at the IEEE International Conference on Communication Systems (ICCS), Singapore, November, 2012; at the IEEE Communication Theory Workshop (CTW), Hawaii, May 2012.

Leadership and Service to International Research Community

  • General Program Chair of the Australian Communication Theory Workshop, 2014, and of the IEEE Communication Theory Workshop, 2015
  • Technical Program Chair of the IEEE International Symposium on Information Theory and its Applications (ISITA), Melbourne, 2014, and of the IEEE International Symposium on Information Theory (ISIT), Aachen, Germany, 2017.
  • Guest Editor for IEEE Journal on Selected Areas in Communications, special issue on “5G Wireless Communication Systems” June 2015.
  • Elected to serve on the Board of Governors of the IEEE Information Theory Society (2015- ); member of the Australian Academy of Science National Committee for Information and Communication Sciences (NCICS); member of the steering committee of the IEEE Communications Theory Workshop (2018 – ); member of the selection panel of the IEEE Hamming Medal (’18-’19).

Leadership, Service and Teaching in the School of Engineering, Macquarie University

  • Director of Research, Department of Engineering, Macquarie University ’14-‘17
  • Deputy Head of the Department of Engineering, Macquarie University, ’16-’17.
  • Leading the Future Wireless Networks research group in the School of Engineering at Macquarie University (’16- ).
  • Developing two new units for the Department of Engineering: ELEC 881 Telecommunications Performance Analysis, and ELEC 887 Heterogeneous Networks
  • Convening, re-developing and teaching the unit ELEC 240 Signals and Systems (’14-’18), including introducing project-based laboratories.
  • Teaching Signals at Xian University of Science and Technology (XUST) (in 2018) as part of the Macquarie University – XUST joint program.
  • Supervising numerous final year projects in Telecommunications Engineering.