Congratulations to
The Internet of the Future

Collage: Icons symbolizing the Internet of Things swirling towards a smartphone

Image: bluecinema

Data streams are exploding the world over. Managing this data surge is one of the biggest challenges of the digital age. Three communications engineers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) developed an algorithm to do just this by pushing transmission rates close to their theoretical limits.

Turbo charger for the digital age

Three communications engineers at TUM set a world record in 2016 by transmitting one terabit of data per second through the a limited frequency band of a single, wafer-thin optical fiber of a fiber cable . They thus created an Internet connection capable of streaming tens of thousands of HD films simultaneously. It is almost the highest speed possible with this kind of fiber optic channel. This ground-breaking technology was developed by the three TUM researchers Georg Böcherer, Fabian Steiner and Patrick Schulte in collaboration with the renowned industry research company Bell Labs.

The key to their success involves going back to basics – to the mathematical foundations of information theory – to program a simple algorithm that works on the basis of probability. The algorithm is called RateX. It dynamically adapts signals to the transmission conditions of each channel, regardless of whether they are long-haul, transatlantic cables stretching thousands of kilometers or short-range wireless links between industrial robots in the Internet of Things.

“It is a universal architecture for all communication devices,” explains Professor Gerhard Kramer, Head of the Institute of Communications Engineering, where the three engineers carry out their research. The first chips with this algorithm are already being launched on the market, promising massive speed gains for the Internet – accelerating, for example, the latest 5G mobile communications, cloud services and video streaming. In just over ten years, Kramer expects RateX to become the standard method in billions of devices.

“Mathematical principles provided blueprints for our algorithm. We then tested them in real life. As long as our models are correct, they will also work in the real world. Recently in particular, we’ve had a lot of success with fiber optic transmissions.”

Prof. Gerhard Kramer

Gerhard Kramer, 2017, Alexander von Humboldt Professor at the Chair of Communications Engineering at the TUM

Bild: Astrid Eckert & Andreas Heddergott / TUM

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