Today, the pace of change is rapid, we are now tethered to the world not just by our physical senses but also by our wireless access or connections; software is everywhere and everything is becoming smart or intelligent, so if you have a bad connection, is there anything that can be done?! Should you move around to make it better? Well, it’s a bit complicated, and since you are also part of the radio environment, if you move around, things will vary, maybe resulting in a better or worse connection. What if something else ‘be done’, e.g. ‘fixing’ the environment to behave ‘better’? If you would like to find out how ‘something can be done’, please join us for the following talk hosted by the Centre for Smart Information and Communication Systems (CSICS) Lab that will do just that.

Date : 26 October 2022, Wednesday
Time : 10 AM – 11 AM (SAST)
Venue : CSICS Lab, B2, LAB 213, APK, UJ
MS Teams : Meeting ID: 387 803 919 774, Passcode: ijUuvT,

Andreas Pitsillides, Department of Computer Science, University of Cyprus and Visiting Professor, University of Johannesburg, Department of Electrical & Electronic Engineering Science Christos Liaskos, Computer Science Engineering Dept. & Foundation for Research and Technology, University of Ioannina, Greece Talk summary: In the usual scenario of wireless communication, electromagnetic waves emitted from user devices scatter chaotically in space, without any control over the physical propagation process, except for the wireless channel endpoints, where they are often supplemented by end-point ‘fixes’, as e.g. MIMO, to improve performance, despite the chaotic behavior of the channel. In this scenario, the objects in between devices are oblivious to the communication process. However, if this unpredictable and intractable behavior of the wireless environment can be “tamed”, a breakthrough in system performance can be anticipated with as a result simpler designs for end-point devices. This approach is becoming necessary to meet the challenges imposed by the upcoming 5th and 6th generation mobile communications (5G, 6G) and Multi Gigabit Wireless LANs (e.g. IEEE 802.11ad). In this vein, Programmable Wireless Environments (PWEs) promise to do just that, by utilizing internetworked programmable intelligent metasurfaces to transform wireless propagation into a software-controlled resource.

This talk will introduce the concept of Wireless Programmable Environments* (PWEs), realized through Reconfigurable Intelligent Surfaces (RIS), which enables the programmatic control of the electromagnetic waves, as e.g. perfect absorption, beam steering via anomalous reflection, or polarization. It is composed of a Metasurface, a thin sheet of material, embedded with many nearly passive scattering elements (atoms/patches),that are programmatically controlled through a network of low cost and low power (nano)controllers. As these materials can interact with electromagnetic waves in a fully software-defined fashion, even unnaturally, the electromagnetic behavior of the environment as a whole becomes deterministic, controlled and tailored to the needs of mobile devices within it. RIS (and the HyperSurface** system implementation) allows for the first time the participation of electromagnetic properties of materials into control loops. RIS/HSF, will be briefly described, and then a Programmable Wireless indoor Environment realized through the HSF will be motivated and presented, from inception to design to evaluation in 2.4 and 60 GHz setups, highlighting the potential benefits in communication quality, including security aspects. To conclude open problems and plausible research directions will be identified, also drawing upon the experience gained though the VISORSURF project**. *C. Liaskos, S. Nie, A. Tsioliaridou, A. Pitsillides, S. Ioannidis and I. F. Akyildiz. A New Wireless Communication Paradigm through Software-controlled Metasurfaces. In IEEE Communications Magazine, vol 56 (9), pp. 16 -169, Sept. 2018. ** VISORSURF ( project was funded by the European Union via the Horizon 2020: Future Emerging
Topics call (FETOPEN), grant EU736876.

Short Bios:
Andreas Pitsillides is a Professor in the Department of Computer Science, University of Cyprus, heads NetRL, the Networks Research Laboratory, and is appointed Visiting Professor at the University of the Johannesburg, Department of Electrical & Electronic Engineering Science, Johannesburg, South Africa. His broad research interests include communication networks (fixed and mobile/wireless), Nanonetworks and Software Defined Metamaterials for wireless communication (Intelligent Reflecting Surfaces and Programmable Wireless Environments), the Internet of Things, Smart Spaces (Home, Grid, City), and Internet technologies and their application in Mobile e-Services, especially e-health, and security. He has a particular interest in adapting tools from various fields of applied mathematics such as adaptive non-linear control theory, computational intelligence, game theory, and nature inspired techniques, to solve problems in communication networks. Published over 350 refereed papers in flagship journals (e.g. IEEE, Elsevier, IFAC, Springer), international conferences and book chapters, 2 books (one edited), participated in over 35 European Commission and locally funded research projects as principal or co-principal investigator, received several awards, including best paper, presented keynotes, invited lectures at major research organisations, short courses at international conferences and short courses to industry, and serves/served on several journal andconference executive committees.

Christos Liaskos is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science & Engineering University of Ioannina, Greece He received the Diploma in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (AUTH), Greece in 2004, the MSc degree in Medical Informatics in 2008 from the Medical School, AUTH and the PhD degree in Computer Networking from the Dept. of Informatics, AUTH in 2014. He has published work in several venues, such as IEEE Transactions on: Networking, Computers, Vehicular Technology, Broadcasting, Systems Man and Cybernetics, Networks and Service Management, Communications, INFOCOM. His research interests include Wireless/Wired Communications, Programmable Wireless Environments, security and nanotechnology, with a focus on developing nanonetwork architectures and communication protocols for future applications. Prof Liaskos incepted the EU Future Emerging Technologies (FET) VISORSURF** project idea and headed the scientific effort from project write to final project completion.

October 26, 2022

Disclaimer: The University of Johannesburg encourages academic debate and discussion that are conducted in a manner that upholds respectful interaction, safety of all involved, and freedom of association as enshrined in the law, the Constitution, and within the boundaries of the University policies. The views expressed during events are expressed in a personal capacity and do not necessarily reflect the views of the University of Johannesburg.

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