KU JOINS SPRINT IN MAJOR RESEARCH EFFORT

LAWRENCE - Researchers at the University of Kansas Telecommunications and Information Sciences Laboratory (TISL) are collaborating in the Multidimensional Applications and Gigabit Internetwork Consortium (MAGIC) to develop communications technologies to provide high-speed access to data bases and supercomputers across the country.

MAGIC will focus on networking research that will provide expeditious access to remote data bases and supercomputing resources. The core of the initial effort will be to develop high-speed communications networks that will allow the simultaneous access to and display of geographically distributed terrain information. This application will permit the simulation of driving or flying through a digital representation of real landscape created from satellite and other aerial images.

Grants for equipment, facilities and research from the Department of Defense Advanced Projects Agency (DARPA) and industry totaling more than $1.6 million will finance KU's efforts to participate in this major new development in the telecommunications industry.

A Research Equipment Grant the Kansas Technology Enterprise Corporation (KTEC) to TISL in 1990 is also supporting this endeavor.

Other research participants in MAGIC are the Earth Resources Observation Systems Data Center, Sioux Falls, S.D.,; SRI International, Menlo Park, Calif.; Lawrence Berkeley Laboratories, Berkeley, Calif.; and Minnesota Supercomputer Center Inc., Minneapolis.

Sprint is providing equipment and network services that will soon link the Minneapolis and Sioux Falls project components with two sites in Kansas: KU and the U. S. Army's Future Battle Laboratory, Fort Leavenworth.

Other industrial affiliates involved in the project include Northern Telecom, Inc., Nashville, Tenn.; the Army High Performance Computing Research Center, Minneapolis, Minn.; Split Rock Telecom, Garretson, S. D.; and Digital Equipment Corp., Maynard, Mass.

KU researchers will establish a campus computer network transmitting information at 1 billion bits per second, 100 times faster than most existing campus-wide networks, using an experimental system provided by Digital Equipment. One goal the KU team will be to design and implement a gateway, or connection, between the high- speed campus system and a next-generation, long-distance network supplied by Sprint. A gateway is a connection between two systems using different formats, working at different speeds or speaking different languages.

"Sprint is pleased to join with the University of Kansas on this ground-breaking project," said Bill Pfeiffer, senior vice president of Sprint's Data Group. "The fruits of our labor should be easier and faster sharing of complex computer information, whether the computers are in the same building or on opposites ends of the country."

Victor S. Frost, KU's TISL director, said the project would include KU in an elite set of universities, such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of California at Berkeley, University of North Caroline and Carnegie-Mellon University, which are involved in similar projects.

Frost and three other TISL researchers involved in this project are from KU's Electrical and Computer Engineering Department: Gary J. Minden, Joseph B. Evans, and David W. Petr.

Universities play a leading role in advanced networking technology because faculty and students use computer networks for collaboration with colleagues, government and industry, and for access to supercomputers.

"KU is involved in the project because of its history in telecommunications research and because of its use of supercomputers," Minden said.

For example, the high-speed network will be used to aid Adrian Melott, associate professor of physics and astronomy, to study the large-scale structure of the Universe. Ken Bishop, professor of chemical engineering, will use the network in his studies of underground aquifers. Both faculty members will get the full benefit of supercomputing on distant facilities and the visualization of the results without leaving campus.

"Our information-based society will increasingly require access to large, distributed data bases, such as library archives and nationwide data files, and computing resources, such as supercomputers," Frost said. "So future users will want fast, remote access to those, through a high-speed network."