Harvard is receiving a 4-year, roughly $5 million grant from the National Science Foundation's Secure and Trustworthy Cyberspace program to study and improve upon the privacy of research data online.
"The Internet and, in particular, social networking sites, provide an amazingly powerful platform for researchers to gather, mine, and share data on human behavior and interactions," says Salil Vadhan, a professor of computer science and applied mathematics at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. "Even with the best intentions and safeguards in place, however, the risk of personal information leaking out remains high."
The "Privacy Tools for Sharing Research Data" project will develop methods, tools and policies to take advantage of the data available but address the risks of dealing with it. They'll be looking at how researchers can share data they have access to locally or regionally, but perhaps not nationally or globally, and also at how to include access to data from commercial outfits, like Netflix or Facebook, without impinging on customer privacy.
The new tools will be tested and deployed at the IQSS Dataverse Network, a huge open-source digital repository of social science datasets.
*Faster Wi-Fi and LTE
Researchers from Harvard have joined force with those from MIT, Caltech and European schools to come up with a way to boost wireless network performance by as much as 10 times without resorting to more base stations, power or spectrum.
Their coded TCP innovation virtually eliminates the packet loss that makes wireless comparably slow to wired networks. Coded TCP is designed to prevent latency and the resending of bad packets. According to an Extreme Tech report on the research, algebraic equations are used to replace blocks of packets, enabling systems to determine what data was being sent by solving the equations rather than fishing around for dropped packets.
*Less messy quantum computing
Yale physicists are working to make quantum computers that could process information exponentially faster than today's machines a reality.