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May 22, 2023

Ph.D. Student Alagappan Ramanathan Named Internet Society Pulse Research Fellow

Since 1992, the nonprofit Internet Society has been advocating for an open and trusted, globally accessible internet. In December 2020, it launched Internet Society Pulse in support of that work, creating data-driven insights into the internet. On May 8, 2023, the Internet Society announced its inaugural cohort of Pulse Research Fellows, and Alagappan (Ashwin) Ramanathan was among the select few named.

As a computer science Ph.D. student in UC Irvine’s Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences (ICS), Ramanathan is researching internet resilience through measurement studies. His fellowship project, “Analyzing Cross-layer Resilience of the Internet under Catastrophic Natural Disasters,” proposes a novel method for mapping the internet at the physical and network layers with a connection to climate and natural disasters.

“The resilience of the internet, a critical infrastructure, is crucial for our technology-driven society,” says Ramanathan. “However, large-scale failure events such as natural disasters can have a cascading impact across the internet. Today, our understanding of the extent and dynamics of large-scale failure events, and the limits of the internet’s resilience to such events, is murky at best.”

To address this, he aims to generate a cross-layer map of the internet, characterizing the cascading impact of natural disasters across various regions of the globe. “This study will employ novel internet mapping techniques over a broad range of public internet infrastructure datasets to generate an end-to-end cross-layer internet map,” he explains. Using this map, he will study the resilience of the internet under various disaster models. “This work will pave the way for identifying regions vulnerable to disconnection during large-scale disasters. My work can help develop better policies and plan for more resilient internet infrastructure deployments in the long run.”

He is grateful to have this opportunity to further his research over the next six months as a Pulse Research Fellow. “I was honored and thrilled to be selected for the fellowship,” he says. Although only in the early stages of his Ph.D. research, his ultimate goal is to make a significant contribution to ensuring the internet is available and accessible to everyone globally. “This fellowship is a great stepping stone toward achieving these goals, and I am eager to embrace the opportunities that lie ahead.”

Shani Murray