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Faculty engage multimedia researchers with new book

February 06, 2007

Some of most daunting technical challenges in computer networking research and development are thoroughly explored in a new book co-authored by two ASU faculty members in the Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering.

“Video Traces for Network Performance Evaluation” delves into the problems and promising possibilities in the rapidly advancing multimedia networking arena – in particular the growing sophistication in the interplay of visual imaging and sound reproduction on Web sites and in movie, television and cell phone technologies.

Research associate Patrick Seeling and associate professor Martin Reisslein, both in ASU's Department of Electrical Engineering, teamed up to write the guidebook with Frank H.P. Fitzek, an associate professor in the Department of Communication Technology at Aalborg University in Denmark.

Video traces can be used to produce a variety of versatile show-and-tell communications tools. Digital software is used to determine audio and visual characteristics, called traces. These traces capture characteristics of moving images and audio without requiring the download of entire movies or music recordings. This aids researchers by allowing them the time-efficient convenience of experimenting with a readily available representation of long video sequences – and thus also avoiding problems with copyright infringement.

Traces enhance understanding of audio-visual media and information sharing among researchers. The technique is of particular value in design and implementation of communications systems. It's employed, for example, by communications companies to accurately determine the traffic capacities required for Internet and cellular telephone service networks.

An extensive video trace online library is maintained at ASU. Developed by Reisslein over the past several years, the library is being accessed by as many as 2,000 researchers from around the world each month. The resource allows them to use video traces generated for their own research purposes.

The book provides instruction on using such a library. The authors examine the fundamental aspects of working with video traces, from encoding videos to generating traces, and explaining how to use traces for networking research.

Researchers are being pressed to improve the quality and practical applications of multimedia, Seeling says, as various industries discover its usefulness for business presentations, and schools are in need of better video and audio quality for their Web sites and online classes.

Seeling and his co-writers spell out in extensive technical detail what engineers and computer scientists need to know to use video traces to satisfy that growing demand.