Transforming networks - building an intelligent optical infrastructure (TRANSNET)

Lead Research Organisation: University College London
Department Name: Electronic and Electrical Engineering

Abstract

Optical networks underpin the global digital communications infrastructure, and their development has simultaneously stimulated the growth in demand for data, and responded to this demand by unlocking the capacity of fibre-optic channels. The work within the UNLOC programme grant proved successful in understanding the fundamental limits in point-to-point nonlinear fibre channel capacity. However, the next-generation digital infrastructure needs more than raw capacity - it requires channel and flexible resource and capacity provision in combination with low latency, simplified and modular network architectures with maximum data throughput, and network resilience combined with overall network security. How to build such an intelligent and flexible network is a major problem of global importance.

To cope with increasingly dynamic variations of delay-sensitive demands within the network and to enable the Internet of Skills, current optical networks overprovision capacity, resulting in both over- engineering and unutilised capacity. A key challenge is, therefore, to understand how to intelligently utilise the finite optical network resources to dynamically maximise performance, while also increasing robustness to future unknown requirements. The aim of TRANSNET is to address this challenge by creating an adaptive intelligent optical network that is able to dynamically provide capacity where and when it is needed - the backbone of the next-generation digital infrastructure.

Our vision and ambition is to introduce intelligence into all levels of optical communication, cloud and data centre infrastructure and to develop optical transceivers that are optimally able to dynamically respond to varying application requirements of capacity, reach and delay. We envisage that machine learning (ML) will become ubiquitous in future optical networks, at all levels of design and operation, from digital coding, equalisation and impairment mitigation, through to monitoring, fault prediction and identification, and signal restoration, traffic pattern prediction and resource planning. TRANSNET will focus on the application of machine techniques to develop a new family of optical transceiver technologies, tailored to the needs of a new generation of self-x (x = configuring, monitoring, planning, learning, repairing and optimising) network architectures, capable of taking account of physical channel properties and high-level applications while optimising the use of resources. We will apply ML techniques to bring together the physical layer and the network; the nonlinearity of the fibres brings about a particularly complex challenge in the network context as it creates an interdependence between the signal quality of all transmitted wavelength channels. When optimising over tens of possible modulation formats, for hundreds of independent channels, over thousands of kilometres, a brute force optimisation becomes unfeasible. Particular challenges are the heterogeneity of large scale networks and the computational complexity of optimising network topology and resource allocation, as well as dynamical and data-driven management, monitoring and control of future networks, which requires a new way of thinking and tailored methodology.

We propose to reduce the complexity of network design to allow self-learned network intelligence and adaptation through a combination of machine learning and probabilistic techniques. This will lead to the creation of computationally efficient approaches to deal with the complexity of the emerging nonlinear systems with memory and noise, for networks that operate dynamically on different time- and length-scales. This is a fundamentally new approach to optical network design and optimisation, requiring a cross-disciplinary approach to advance machine learning and heuristic algorithm design based on the understanding of nonlinear physics, signal processing and optical networking.

Planned Impact

TRANSNET is focused on one of our society's greatest technical challenges and economic drivers with impact on public, business and government activities. The question of how to ensure the availability of ubiquitous, high-capacity, low-delay, resilient and secure digital infrastructure, likely to transform and improve people's lives, forms the subject of our proposal. Every sector of the population and Government/private agencies is likely to be affected (well reflected in the participating team of project partners). TRANSNET's programme, though the approach of cross-disciplinarity and co-creation, will allow new digital application markets to become a reality with new approaches to build adaptive intelligent optical network that is able to dynamically provide capacity, where and when it is needed. TRANSNET will have numerous means of creating impact, from the people involved, the knowledge created, to the impact on the economy and broader society.
A. People: TRANSNET will impact the UK and international science and engineering ICT communities by training a new generation of researchers that are able to operate at the interface between optical fibre communication and machine learning, hence creating a pipeline of highly skilled people.
B. (i) Knowledge: TRANSNET will impact through knowledge creation with a focus on dissemination, advocacy and the public understanding of science. Dissemination - in addition to high-quality publication in leading international peer-review journals and conferences, a substantial effort will be dedicated to organise technical workshops including with industrial partners within and outside the programme. Major impact of the work will be through technology demonstrations over the National Dark Fibre Infrastructure (NDFIS) to give carriers the confidence to move towards an intelligent optical network infrastructure. (ii) Advocacy: The Investigators are all known as effective and strong advocates of optical communications and will effectively use their substantial and diverse set of links to industry, opinion formers and the general public to enhance the impact of the project. (iii) Public understanding of science: TRANSNET will seek to use the creation of an intelligent optical network as a means of improving the public understanding of science. This will include public lectures (e.g. at the Royal Society), but also and perhaps more critically through outreach, through science festivals including the Big Bang Fair (targeting UK Young Scientists and Engineers) and the Cambridge Science Festival (targeting the general public).
C. Economy: TRANSNET will impact the economy through improvement in productivity, wealth creation and inward investment as industry seeks to utilise the outcomes of TRANSNET. Specifically, there are a number of beneficiaries beyond the project partners including: (i) Telecommunications/data service providers: TRANSNET will impact both traditional carriers and cloud services/internet service providers in planning, operating and evolving their networks. TRANSNET will have a major impact on reducing the management and operating costs of networks by providing a mechanism for automated service provisioning across all the layers of the network. (ii) Equipment and optical fibre manufacturers and vendors are facing the overall challenge of providing the necessary capacity to satisfy the growing data demands in the most cost-effective way and flexible way. The results of the research will inform industry's R&D directions.
D. Society: The digital infrastructure facilitated through TRANSNET, offers improved quality of life - from facilitating family friendly flexible working through to remote health monitoring of elderly. TRANSNET will inform and contribute to standards bodies and Government policy on infrastructure capability, security and broadband delivery - enabling informed policy formulation as networks evolve from being manually provisioned to autonomous entities.

Organisations

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description New programme but initial new findings on large network throughput and data centre architectures, critical for our digital infrastructures.
Exploitation Route For the design of next-generation optical networks - programme has recently started.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Electronics,Government, Democracy and Justice,Security and Diplomacy

URL https://www.ucl.ac.uk/transnet-programme/
 
Description This is a new award but it has stimulated a new activity ion Microsoft and with a number of other partners as well as discussion at Government level about network economics and provision of broadband services.
First Year Of Impact 2018
Sector Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Electronics,Security and Diplomacy
Impact Types Societal,Economic,Policy & public services

 
Description Microsoft studentship
Amount £71,650 (GBP)
Organisation Microsoft Research 
Department Microsoft Research Cambridge
Sector Private
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2016 
End 10/2019
 
Description Microsoft Research PhD studentships - 4 fully funded studentships and part funding of 1 studentship plus additional consumables/equipment support 
Organisation Microsoft Research
Department Microsoft Research Cambridge
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Proposed several new research areas covering 4 PhD studentships to be supervised by PI and co-Is on the grant as well as contribution to the Microsoft Research Alliance on Optics for the Cloud - visits to research laboratories around the world, presentations and joint work, contributing to the next-generation of Microsoft products for data centres and inter-data centre communications.
Collaborator Contribution Funding of 4 PhD studentship with Microsoft Research, including industry supervision. Also participated in the recruitment of the students, contribution through dedicated electronics prototypes, specialist hardware and design resources and consumables cost of the projects. Coordination of the Research Alliance on Optics for the Cloud and provision of travel and consumables costs for the students/academic leads.
Impact Ongoing
Start Year 2018
 
Description Research Exchange - Dr Yuta Wakayama, KDDI 
Organisation KDDI Foundation
Department KDDI Research & Development Laboratories
Country Japan 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution The TRANSNET team have provided their research expertise to Dr Yuta Wakayama and facilitated access to world-class laboratory facilities.
Collaborator Contribution KDDI provided their Engineer to the Programme for a period of one year, allowing active knowledge exchange between researchers across the partner academic institutions. Dr Yuya specialises in multi-core optical fibres, an important research area for our team.
Impact Ongoing
Start Year 2018
 
Description Research Exchange: Prof Tsuda, Keio University 
Organisation Keio University
Country Japan 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Conducted joint research with Professor Tsuda from Keio University, Japan using technologies across the newly defined T-Band. The TRANSNET team at UCL provided access to the necessary research facilities, including our world class laboratory, to conduct the research.
Collaborator Contribution The expertise of Prof Tsuda has been unparalleled. The experimental work has explored routing and networking systems able to support 1000 wavelengths and accommodate 10s of thousands of end points, of which Prof Tsuda has excellent knowledge. One particular application of this approach is in future all optical Data Centres.
Impact Ongoing
Start Year 2018
 
Description Open Day 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact We provided a case study detailing UNLOC and TRANSNET research aims and outputs, for use at UCL's departmental open day that attracts students from across the country.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Open discussion: Meeting about the future of coherent access, OFC 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact TRANSNET Co-investigator engaged in an open discussion at the leading communications conference OFC. Here, he engaged in a dialogue with PICadvanced about the future of coherent access. The meeting notes of this will feed into a White Paper on the topic of access networks.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Presentation: 'How fast can the internet get?' at New Scientist Live 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact New Scientist Live is an award-winning, mind-blowing festival of ideas and discoveries for everyone curious about science and why it matters. Lidia Galdino presented to a 100+ audience on her groundbreaking research detailing Lidia what limits internet speeds and, how her team have demonstrated the world record internet speed of 120,000,000 Megabits per second
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://live.newscientist.com/speakers/lidia-galdino
 
Description Presentation: 74.38 Tb/s Transmission Over 6300 km Single Mode Fiber with Hybrid EDFA/Raman Amplifiers, OFC 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Our researcher Maria Ionescu, presented the joint paper entitled 74.38 Tb/s Transmission Over 6300 km Single Mode Fiber with Hybrid EDFA/Raman Amplifiers to a 100+ audience. This paper was a collab with industrial partners Xtera.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Presentation: 91 nm C+L Hybrid Distributed Raman/Erbium-Doped Fibre Amplifier for High Capacity Subsea Transmission, ECOC 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Researcher Maria Ionescu presented to a 100+ audience her research entitled 91 nm C+L Hybrid Distributed Raman/Erbium-Doped Fibre Amplifier for High Capacity Subsea Transmission, at the leading optical communication conference, ECOC 2018.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Presentation: A Comparison of Impairment Abstractions by Multiple Users of an Installed Fiber Infrastructure, OFC 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact TRANSNET co-investigator David Ives presented his research paper entitled A Comparison of Impairment Abstractions by Multiple Users of an Installed Fiber Infrastructure to a 100+ audience at OFC 2019, a leading optical communications conference.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Presentation: A Low-Loss Split-Carrier Transceiver Architecture for Intra-Datacentre Communications, ECOC 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact PhD student Thomas Gerard presented his research entitled A Low-Loss Split-Carrier Transceiver Architecture for Intra-Datacentre Communications to a 100+ audience at the leading optical communication conference, ECOC 2018.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Presentation: Breaking the Transmission Barriers in Ultra-broadband High-capacity Optical Fiber Transmission Systems at LAOP 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The Latin America Optics & Photonics Conference is the major international conference sponsored by The Optical Society in Latin America with the explicit objective to promote Latin American excellence in optics and photonics research and support the regional community. Dr Lidia Galdino delievered a presentation to a 500+ audience on 'Breaking the Transmission Barriers in Ultra-broadband High-capacity Optical Fiber Transmission Systems'.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Presentation: Experimental Demonstration of Geometrically-Shaped Constellations Tailored to the Nonlinear Fibre Channel, ECOC 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Researcher Eric Sillekens presented his research to a 100+ audience at the leading communications conference, ECOC 2018. His research was entitled Experimental Demonstration of Geometrically-Shaped Constellations Tailored to the Nonlinear Fibre Channel and received extremely well.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Presentation: Experimental Investigation of Static and Dynamic Crosstalk in Trench-Assisted Multi-Core Fiber, OFC 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The research paper entitled Experimental Investigation of Static and Dynamic Crosstalk in Trench-Assisted Multi-Core Fiber, by Hui Yuan, was presented to a 100+ audience at the leading optical communication conference, OFC 19. Hui et al were also awarded best paper for this research.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Presentation: Experimental Realisation of Single-carrier Alamouti-coded QPSK Using Frequency-Diverse Dual-Polarisation RF Pilot Tones, ECOC 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact PhD student Sezer Erkilinç presented his research entitled Nonlinearity Mitigation in the Presence of Intercore-Crosstalk to a 100+ audience at the leading optical communication conference, ECOC 2018.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Presentation: Experimental demonstration of a dispersion tolerant end-to-end deep learning-based IM-DD transmission system, ECOC 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Researcher Boris Karanov presented to a 100+ audience her research entitled Experimental demonstration of a dispersion tolerant end-to-end deep learning-based IM-DD transmission system, at the leading optical communication conference, ECOC 2018.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Presentation: Genetic Algorithm Optimization of Multi Core Fibre Transmission Links based on Silicon Photonic Transceivers, OFC 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This research paper is a unique one, the lead author being a 2nd year undergraduate student, Alessandro Ottino. His research was presented by TRANSNET co-investigator Domanic Lavery to a 100+ audience at the leading optical communication conference, OFC 2019.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Presentation: Nonlinearity Mitigation in the Presence of Intercore-Crosstalk, ECOC 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact PhD student Daniel Elson presented his research entitled Nonlinearity Mitigation in the Presence of Intercore-Crosstalk to a 100+ audience at the leading optical communication conference, ECOC 2018.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Presentation: Rate-Adaptive Coded Modulation with Geometrically-shaped Constellations at ACP 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Asia Communications and Photonics Conference (ACP) is the largest conference in the Asia-Pacific region on optical communication, photonics and relevant technologies.
Domanic Lavery delivered a presentation to a 500+ audience on Rate-Adaptive Coded Modulation with Geometrically-shaped Constellations
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Presentation: Stem for Britain 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact PhD student Kari Clark selected from over hundreds of applicants to enter the final round of the STEM for Britain competition and attend parliament to showcase his research on Data Centers to a panel, including the local MP.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Presentation: Sub-Nanosecond Clock and Data Recovery in an Optically Switched Data Centre Network, ECOC 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact PhD student Kari Clark presented this post deadline paper, in collab with our industry partner Microsoft, entitled Sub-Nanosecond Clock and Data Recovery in an Optically Switched Data Centre Network. This was at the leading optical communications conference ECOC to an audience of over 100 delegates.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Presentation: The role of women in STEM at BICOP 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact IEEE BICOP 2018 reported on the latest advances in optics and photonics across diverse fields, including: Communications; Laser; Photonic Integrated Circuits; Sensors; Medicine; Manufacturing; and Quantum Photonics. Dr Lidia Galdino presented to a 100+ audience in her capacity as IEEE Associate Vice President of the IEE 'Women in Photonics' initiative.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Presentation: Unsupervised and supervised machine learning for performance improvement of NFT optical transmission 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The TRANSNET team at Aston University, led by Sergei Turitsyn presented their research entitled Unsupervised and supervised machine learning for performance improvement of NFT optical transmission to a 100+ audience.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Visit at institution: EPSRC ICT team 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact UNLOC and TRANSNET teams based at UCL had a visit from the EPSRC ICT teams to explore the lab facilities.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Visit at institution: Infinera 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Dr Robert Maher, an industry employee, visited the UCL UNLOC and TRANSNET teams to deliver a presentation to approximately 30 members of the team on 'the challenges of building next generation coherent transceivers'. The talk was received extremely well and led to an excellent question and answer session on the topic.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Workshop: CableLabs 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Dr Domanic Lavery attended a small workshop with the prestigious organisation CableLabs, Colorado. They are responsible for setting the cable Internet standards used by more than 500 million subscribers. His networking led to potential opportunities for further collaborations.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Workshop: Optical Experiments and Testing: With or without FEC?, OFC 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Our Deputy Director Seb Savory and Co-investigator Dom Lavery led on this workshop hosted at the leading optical communications conference, OFC 2019. They presented to an audience of 50+ and social media interactions hinted at the workshop's popularity. Their talk was entitled 'Abusing Forward Error Correction in Optical Communications Experiments'.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Workshop: Optical Injection Locking: From Principles to Applications, OFC 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact TRANSNET co-investigator delivered a presentation entitled Optical Injection Locking: From Principles to Applications at OFC 2019; his workshop was part of a series of workshops dedicated to optical communications, and he presented to an audience of 50+.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Workshop: Will Advanced Direct-detection Systems Ever Be the Solution of Choice for Metro and Access Applications?, OFC 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Our Co-investigator Domanic Lavery participated in a workshop at the leading optical communications conference OFC. Here, he delivered a talk entitled ' Reduced complexity coherent transceivers for optical access' to over 100 delegates.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019