Rui Prior Said: "Graduate Courses at Carnegie Mellon are More Research Oriented"

 Rui Prior

Rui Prior is an assistant professor at the Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade do Porto (FCUP) and researcher from the Instituto de Telecomunicações (IT) who spent four months (April to July, 2011) at Carnegie Mellon University, in the scope of the Faculty Exchange Carnegie Mellon Portugal Program.

Hosted by Hyong Kim, professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering department at Carnegie Mellon, Rui Prior was involved in several activities, from education to research. In the beginning, he was planning to do the qualification for teaching the Carnegie Mellon/Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) courses, but because of his late arrival on March 15, he was not able to go through with the plan. Meanwhile he was involved in the graduate course 18-757 Network Management and Control at CMU. An experience very enriching because this course was research oriented. “The discussion of recent research papers [given in advance to the students, and which they were supposed to have read] was frequent in the classes, and some included lectures by more senior Ph.D. students on their own research work,” said Rui Prior. The course projects were used to explore research ideas, and by the end of the semester students presented their work and delivered reports of publishable quality, some of which evolved into actual research papers. “This engagement of students in research, contrasts to the more spoon-feeding attitude still frequently found in Portuguese universities,” said Rui Prior.

During his time at Carnegie Mellon, Rui Prior started a collaborative work with Hyong Kim and Ricardo Morla, from the Faculdade de Engenharia da Universidade do Porto (FEUP), on the use of machine-learning techniques in network management, a field that is entirely new for him. “More specifically, our work concerns the automatic detection of abnormal BGP events (caused by Internet worms, blackouts, etc.) from the UPDATE messages exchanged with the peers,” said Rui Prior adding that “the work is still ongoing, and will give rise to a joint publication.”

Rui Prior participated on the weekly research group meetings, where he had the opportunity to give two talks, one on a recently published paper “Systematic Network Coding for Packet Loss Concealment in Broadcast Distribution,” and the other one on the use of network coding with Transmission Control Protocol (TCP). 

“Overall, my experience was very positive, and I believe it will allow me to improve my work both in terms of research and education,” said Rui Prior.

August 2011