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Research Thrust Areas

Wireless @ Virginia Tech has refocused its research thrusts areas to meet the current and evolving needs of the wireless markets. Our current thrusts areas are:

  1. Cognitive and Dynamic Spectrum Access Systems
  2. Wireless and Spectrum Security
  3. Emerging Communication Networks
  4. Applied Signal Processing
  5. RF Analysis and Technologies

Each of these research thrusts areas are described in more detail below and linked to the Wireless faculty that is leading the research teams.

Cognitive and Dynamic Spectrum Access Systems

The goal of this thrust is to develop intelligent algorithms to harness the capabilities of modern wireless devices and to advance the stewardship of the radio spectrum. Our cognitive systems work focuses on intelligently controlling software defined radio nodes to maximize their performance and to achieve end to end network performance objectives. This thrust is also devoted to advancing the study of the radio spectrum, a critical resource that has been managed into scarcity. We examine new technologies for better, more dynamic allocation of the radio spectrum – including the application of cognitive techniques – and we assess the engineering and technology implications of proposed changes to spectrum regulation.

Thrust Leader:

Wireless and Spectrum Security

Recent advances in wireless technologies introduce new operation paradigms that often come with challenging security and privacy issues. These issues may threaten a wide range of wireless-dependent systems and their users, and also can potentially impede the adoption and development of these new wireless technology advances. The goal of the Wireless and Spectrum Security thrust area is to address the security and privacy challenges associated with the next-generation wireless technologies, including frequency-agile systems, adaptive and cognitive radios, emerging cellular standards, and cyber physical systems. Specific topics of interest include (1) resilient communications in contested and congested environments; (2) location and utilization privacy of spectrum users; (3) security issues with LTE and LTE Advanced; (4) integrity of decision making and machine learning processes in cognitive and adaptive wireless systems; (5) trusted support infrastructure for wireless access, such as spectrum management databases; (6) privacy and security issues for cyber physical systems.

Thrust Leader:

Emerging Communication Networks

The goal of this thrust is to develop tools and techniques to help manage emerging communication networks and applications, such as heterogeneous cellular networks, machine to machine communications, and the Internet of things (IoT). Research products include foundational frameworks, grounded in solid analytical techniques such as stochastic geometry and game theory, for modeling, analyzing, and optimizing such emerging networks while factoring in their density, heterogeneity, and dynamics

Thrust Leader:

Applied Signal Processing


The goal of this thrust is to develop signal processing techniques to improve the efficiency and the performance (accuracy and/or data rate) of wireless systems, including communications, radar and geolocation systems. Although this is a diverse area, we focus in particular on interference mitigation, MIMO (including massive MIMO) and array processing, spectrum sensing, modulation classification, iterative receiver processing, collaborative and single node geolocation, and device tracking.

Thrust Leader:

Associated Faculty:

RF Analysis and Technologies


This thrust area addresses antennas, propagation, and radio frequency systems associated with wireless communications and related applications. Work in antennas includes analysis and design of conventional antennas as well as research in electrically-small, broadband, reconfigurable, active/integrated, and array antenna systems. Work in propagation includes measurement, characterization, and prediction in indoor, outdoor, and complex environments including vehicular interior and interior-to-exterior scenarios. Work in RF hardware includes development of electronics and systems for measurement applications as well as unusual or extreme communications applications.

Thrust Leader

Dr. Steven Ellingson

Associated Faculty: