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Introduction to Professor Andreas Molisch and His Lab at University of Southern California

  1. Could you briefly introduce yourself (and your University/Lab)?

 I have been working in wireless communications for more than 25 years, and have during those years spent time in big industrial research labs, a startup, and academia. I joined the University of Southern California (USC) in 2009, where I am now the Solomon Golomb – Andrew and Erna Viterbi Chair Professor. My group, the Wireless Devices and Systems (WiDeS) Lab at USC, explores the fundamentals as well as the practical implementation of current and future wireless systems, with emphasis on physical, MAC, and networking layer. Our fundamental philosophy is to break the silos that have traditionally hampered wireless systems design: for example, while we do a lot of research into wireless propagation channels, we do not see them in isolation, but explore how their properties impact system performance. We pride ourselves in a very collaborative atmosphere and work together both within the lab, with other groups at USC, and with colleagues throughout the world. My students and Postdocs go on to successful careers in both academia and industry. You can find more about me and WiDeS at wides.usc.edu.

  1. What have been your most significant research contributions up to now?

A big part of my work has been on wireless propagation channels, both in terms of measurement and modeling, ranging from the fundamental method for describing channels for MIMO systems, to measurements of THz channels. Another important area is the design of wireless transceivers for MIMO (e.g., hybrid beamforming), and ultrawideband communications and localization. I have also contributed to wireless networking methods, including a method for distributing wireless video that is two orders of magnitude higher throughput than conventional methods, and mobile edge computing. A significant part of my work has become part of international standards for cellular, WiFi, and personal area networks. I have also written a widely used textbook on wireless communications.

  1. What problems in your research field deserve more attention (or what problems will you like to solve) in the next few years, and why?

A key topic of future research will be the expansion of wireless communications from a (mostly) cellular and WiFi ecosystem to a world where wireless systems are built into essentially all devices that perform communications, computations, and/or storage, and the optimization of wireless for all of these different aspects. Thus, instead of a one-size-fits all system with independently constructed PHY, MAC, and network layer, we will see dedicated systems optimized for particular applications. This new approach will necessitate to not only develop new theory (e.g., the equivalent of Shannon theory for systems with latency constraints), but also new tool, including machine learning (though not using it as black box, but in a very targeted way for specific optimizations). Within this wide area, we plan in the near future to deal with: (i) Terahertz and high millimeter-wave systems for ultra-high data rates, (ii) mobile edge computing, (iii) machine learning for channel prediction and localization, (iv) distributed massive MIMO systems.

  1. What advice would you like to give to the young generation of researchers/engineers?

I had the good fortune of having wonderful mentors, whose advice and insight have guided me, and the messages are timeless: (i) Don’t take shortcuts. Strong ethics and good scientific methodology must be the foundation of all your work. (ii) Get a solid mathematical/physical basis. You will need to change your topics several times during your life – the better your basics, the easier the adaptation to new topics will be. (iii) Don’t chase hot topics – by the time you come to the party, it will have moved on. (iv) Always be ready to listen to and learn from everybody.