Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Computing Sciences - (Ph.D.)


Computer Science

First Advisor

Cristian Borcea

Second Advisor

Narain Gehani

Third Advisor

Reza Curtmola

Fourth Advisor

Xiaoning Ding

Fifth Advisor

Luca Foschini


The proliferation of smart mobile devices in people’s daily lives is making context-aware computing a reality. A plethora of sensors available in these devices can be utilized to understand users’ context better. Apps can provide more relevant data or services to the user based on improved understanding of user’s context. With the advent of cloud-assisted mobile platforms, apps can also perform collaborative computation over the sensing data collected from a group of users. However, there are still two main issues: (1) A lack of simple and effective personal sensing frameworks: existing frameworks do not provide support for real-time fusing of data from motion and visual sensors in a simple manner, and no existing framework collectively utilizes sensors from multiple personal devices and personal IoT sensors, and (2) a lack of collaborative/distributed computing frameworks for mobile users. This dissertation presents solutions for these two issues. The first issue is addressed by TagPix and Sentio, two frameworks for mobile sensing. The second issue is addressed by Moitree, a middleware for mobile distributed computing, and CASINO, a collaborative sensor-driven offloading system.

TagPix is a real-time, privacy preserving photo tagging framework, which works locally on the phones and consumes little resources (e.g., battery). It generates relevant tags for landscape photos by utilizing sensors of a mobile device and it does not require any previous training or indexing. When a user aims the mobile camera to a particular landmark, the framework uses accelerometer and geomagnetic field sensor to identify in which direction the user is aiming the camera at. It then uses a landmark database and employs a smart distance estimation algorithm to identify which landmark(s) is targeted by the user. The framework then generates relevant tags for the captured photo using these information.

A more versatile sensing framework can be developed using sensors from multiple devices possessed by a user. Sentio is such a framework which enables apps to seamlessly utilize the collective sensing capabilities of the user’s personal devices and of the IoT sensors located in the proximity of the user. With Sentio, an app running on any personal mobile/wearable device can access any sensor of the user in real-time using the same API, can selectively switch to the most suitable sensor of a particular type when multiple sensors of this type are available at different devices, and can build composite sensors. Sentio offers seamless connectivity to sensors even if the sensor-accessing code is offloaded to the cloud. Sentio provides these functionalities with a high-level API and a distributed middleware that handles all low-level communication and sensor management tasks.

This dissertation also proposes Moitree, a middleware for the mobile cloud platforms where each mobile device is augmented by an avatar, a per-user always-on software entity that resides in the cloud. Mobile-avatar pairs participate in distributed computing as a unified computing entity. Moitree provides a common programming and execution framework for mobile distributed apps. Moitree allows the components of a distributed app to execute seamlessly over a set of mobile/avatar pairs, with the provision of offloading computation and communication to the cloud. The programming framework has two key features: user collaborations are modeled using group semantics - groups are created dynamically based on context and are hierarchical; data communication among group members is offloaded to the cloud through high-level communication channels.

Finally, this dissertation presents and discusses CASINO, a collaborative sensor-driven computation offloading framework which can be used alongside Moitree. This framework includes a new scheduling algorithm which minimizes the total completion time of a collaborative computation that executes over a set of mobile/avatar pairs. Using the CASINO API, the programmers can mark their classes and functions as ”offloadable”. The framework collects profiling information (network, CPU, battery, etc.) from participating users’ mobile devices and avatars, and then schedules ”offloadable” tasks in mobiles and avatars in a way that reduces the total completion time. The scheduling problem is proven to be NP-Hard and there is no polynomial time optimization algorithm for it. The proposed algorithm can generate a schedule in polynomial time using a topological sorting and greedy technique.



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