George Mason University


CS 795 – 001

Low-Power Computing

Spring 2007

Wednesday 7.20 - 10.00 P.M.
Innovation Hall   Room 139


Instructor: Dr. Hakan Aydin


Description: With the on-going miniaturization of computing devices, Power/Energy Management has quickly become one of the focal points in Computer Science/Engineering research. The advent of battery-powered embedded computing and mobile, ad-hoc and sensor networks increases the scope and significance of low-power computing research. Recently, there has been also growing interest in power management issues for web servers and internet data server farms. Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Microsoft, Phoenix, and Toshiba have recently developed an open industry standard (ACPI) for power management on desktops, servers and laptops proving the equally pressing priority of the area for the industry.  Despite literally hundreds of recent papers that have been published in the area, some problems of great theoretical and practical significance remain still open. The International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors has listed Power Management as well as Performance and Power Dissipation in High-Performance Applications as two near-term grand challenges.

This is a seminar type course with strong emphasis on hot research issues in system-level low-power computing. As such, the focus will be on operating systems-, network- and application-level power management techniques. Most of the existing techniques attempt to obtain energy savings at the cost of degraded operation (e.g. reduced throughput, speed or transmission range) yielding novel and intriguing Computer Science Problems: how to keep the network connected with reduced transmission ranges, how to meet all the deadlines with reduced CPU speed, how to provide acceptable QoS guarantees for multimedia streams with reduced frame rates, and many others. An emerging class of problems deal with maximizing system performance in the context of systems that must remain functional for a given operation/mission time with a fixed energy budget (energy-constrained operation).

During the term, we will present, discuss and evaluate various papers in Operating Systems, Real-Time Systems and Networking research on low-power computing. Through a comprehensive term project, the students will be able to focus on a well-defined area of low-power computing and perform a preliminary research. There will be no exams. The course is particularly suitable for PhD students and advanced MS students interested in hot research issues in the general Systems area. A tentative list of discussion topics include:

  • OS-level power management techniques
    • Power-aware scheduling
    • Adaptations for multimedia applications
    • Power-aware memory and I/O device management
  • Power management in multiprocessor systems
  • Power management in Internet data centers and web servers
  • Power management in wireless, ad-hoc and sensor networks
    • Power-aware Routing
    • Topology Control
    • Sleep Schedules
    • Clustering Algorithms
    • Power-aware Multicast
  • Interplay of Fault Tolerance and Power Management
  • Interplay of Security and Power Management
  • Control-theory- and game-theory-inspired techniques for Power Management
  • Power Management for Wearable and Pervasive Computing
  • Temperature Management through Peak Power Control


Prerequisites: CS 571 and CS 656. However, the students who did not take these courses are encouraged to contact the instructor if they believe that their background (in operating systems and networks) is strong enough to succeed in the course. The course is open to both Ph.D. students and advanced M.S. students.

The field is brand new, and there is no required textbook for the course. Most of the course material will be provided by the instructor and through recent research articles.

Office Hours: Wednesday, 3.00 – 4.00 PM; Thursday, 7.20 – 8.20 PM (Office: ST II, Room 401)


  • Term Project 50%
  • Paper Presentation 30%
  • Class Participation and Paper Summaries/Evaluations 20%


Presentations: During the first part of the course, the instructor will present the fundamentals of low-power computing and main research problems of the area. In the second part, the students will present articles from recent conference/workshop proceedings and journals. A list of suggested papers will be provided, however, the student suggestions are welcome. The (in-class) presentation will include a critical evaluation and discussion of the paper. The students will be required to read, and submit a brief summary/evaluation of the papers presented in class.

Term Project: Each student is expected to complete a term project and submit a research paper/report by the end of the term. Again, a list of potential projects will be provided; but students may define their own project as long as the project has sufficient scope/complexity and the instructor's approval is obtained. A term project may be in any of the following forms:

  • Theoretical investigation, such as an analytical performance analysis
  • Critical survey of existing literature in a well-defined low-power research area
  • Simulation-based performance evaluation
  • An OS- or network-level implementation involving low-power issues, such as implementing a power-aware enhancement to the kernel, or energy-preservation protocol for sensor networks.


GMU Honor Code will be strictly enforced. We reserve the right to use MOSS to detect plagiarism. Violations of GMU Honor Code will result in an F.