Keynote Talks

Keynote 1

Underwater Communications Over Many Media and Scales (UCOMMS) by Prof. Andrew Singer

Tuesday, August 30th


Acoustic communications have enabled subsea connectivity in a manner that was truly unthinkable only a few decades ago. Modems are now an integral part of many aspects of manned and unmanned subsea systems, where autonomy or cabled systems were previously the norm. Some of the key differences between subsea acoustic communications research and its land-based RF cousin, lie in the tremendous variability of the environments of interest and the relative cost of acquiring experimental data for research and experimentation. In this talk, I will discuss some of the methods that we have learned that enable experimentation through data re-use and experimental replay. Some of these methods have enabled us to push the boundaries of what we previously thought was possible, in terms of data rate, range, and system mobility. This is in part because we have been able to vary some of these parameters beyond what would have been reasonable without fear of jeopardizing the data by overly optimistic performance. Leveraging such experimental frugality, we have been able to explore applications of our acoustic communications work into a range of previously un(der)explored arenas. Some of our work in collaboration with biomedical ultrasound researchers have enabled through-tissue acoustic communications at data rates that far exceed the capabilities of current implanted biomedical devices. Through collaboration with geotechnical researchers, we have also been able to explore the replacement of traditionally wired subterranean sensor networks with through-soil acoustic transmission, opening the possibility of embedded geosensing without susceptibility to fouling that plagues existing infrastructural monitoring systems. A central theme in each of these applications, is the ability to explore a wide range of operational parameters with a suitably-chosen set of experimental data collection opportunities.


Prof. Singer

Andrew Singer received the S.B., S.M., and Ph.D. degrees, all in electrical engineering and computer science, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Since 1998, he has been on the faculty of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he currently holds a Fox Family Endowed Professorship in the Electrical and Computer Engineering department and is the Associate Dean for Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the College of Engineering. During the academic year 1996, he was a Postdoctoral Research Affiliate in the Research Laboratory of Electronics at MIT. From 1996 to 1998, he was a Research Scientist at Sanders, A Lockheed Martin Company in Manchester, New Hampshire. In 2000, he co-founded Intersymbol Communications, Inc., a fabless semiconductor IC company, based in Champaign, Illinois, which built digital signal processing-enhanced receivers for 10Gb/s optical communications. In 2007, Intersymbol Communications, Inc. was acquired by Finisar Corporation and is now part of II-VI Inc. In 2014, he co-founded OceanComm, a Chicago-based provider of ultra-high-speed underwater acoustic modem technology for subsea industries. He received the National Science Foundation CAREER Award in 2000; in 2001 he received the Xerox Faculty Research Award, and in 2002 he was named a Willett Faculty Scholar. From 2005-2017, he served as Director of the Technology Entrepreneur Center (TEC) in the College of Engineering, which is now part of the office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the College of Engineering. In 2006 he received the IEEE Journal of Solid State Circuits Best Paper Award for the paper entitled “An MLSE Receiver for Electronic Dispersion Compensation of OC-192 Fiber Links.” In 2008, he received the IEEE Signal Processing Magazine Award for the paper entitled “Turbo Equalization.” In 2009, he was elected Fellow of the IEEE “for contributions to signal processing techniques for digital communication,” and in 2014, he was named as a Distinguished Lecturer of the IEEE Signal Processing Society. He serves on the board of directors of a number of technology companies and as an expert witness for electronics, communications, and circuit-related technologies.

Keynote 2

How Can Quantum Technologies Change Our Business In Underwater Comms? by Prof. Davide Bacco

Wednesday, August 31st


In a society based on the continuous exchange of sensitive data and information, the importance of secure and trustable communications is essential. By exploiting principles of Quantum Physics, it is possible to share data in an unconditionally secure way, no longer based on mathematical assumptions of the encryption algorithm, but founded on the basic principles of Quantum Mechanics. In this context, my research relies on the development of a Quantum Communication (QCs) system able to increase the actual performance in terms of rate, security and distance independently from the transmission medium. The key to exceeding the barriers of present QCs resides in the extensive knowledge of high-speed classical optical communications merged with future technologies based on integrated photonic circuits. In this lecture, I will present the latest research on quantum photonics technologies including high-dimensional quantum communication, pure photon-pair source on silicon, high-dimensional quantum entanglement manipulation and quantum teleportation. I will also present our recent results on new quantum key distribution protocols and the integration of classical and quantum signals in the underwater domain.


Prof. Bacco

Davide Bacco is an Assistant Professor (Tenured-track) at the Department of Physics and Astronomy of the University of Florence. He received his degree in Engineering Telecommunication in 2011 at the University of Padova, Italy. In 2015 he finished in the same University the Ph.D. degree on Science Technology and Spatial Measures (CISAS). He has been working at the Department of Electronics and Photonics Engineering at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) for the last 7 years. His research interests regard quantum communications, quantum cryptography and integrated photonics for quantum communications.

Keynote 3

Can machines learn to communicate underwater? by Prof. Mandar Chitre

Thursday, September 1st


While the idea of machine learning is not new, the past decade has seen unprecedented advances that have led to it being one of the most influential technologies in recent years. It has made its way into everything from self-driving cars to drug discovery, natural language processing, astronomy, weather prediction, advertising, security, software development, and even art. Many challenging problems that have been unsolved for decades have recently been tamed using machine learning. So what about underwater acoustic communication? Can we apply cutting edge machine learning techniques discovered to work well in other domains to underwater communication problems and expect them to yield amazing results? The answer is very likely a "yes" – but certainly not by applying the techniques blindly. Most machine learning algorithms are data-hungry, and getting large amounts of high quality curated data from oceanic experiments is prohibitively expensive. Yet, there is much that we can do to learn effectively from a small amount of noisy data by combining our knowledge of physics with machine learning. In this talk, we will explore some of the key ideas behind machine learning, and how these ideas may be combined with our ocean acoustic domain knowledge to yield practical solutions to some of the challenges in underwater acoustic communication.


Prof. Chitre

Mandar Chitre is currently the Head of the Acoustic Research Laboratory (ARL) at the Tropical Marine Science Institute (TMSI) in Singapore. He is also an Associate Professor at the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering (ECE) of the National University of Singapore (NUS). He also serves as the Editor-in-Chief for the IEEE Journal of Oceanic Engineering. Mandar’s research interests include underwater acoustic communications & networking, ocean acoustics, signal processing & machine learning, and collaborative underwater robotics. He was awarded the Distinguished Technical Achievement Award by the IEEE Oceanic Engineering Society in 2020 for his work on underwater communications & networking. Apart from his academic interests, Mandar has a strong passion for computing & software development, and considers theoretical physics a hobby. He also enjoys photography, scuba diving, cold places, seriously hot chilies, good wine, strange beers, and a game of contract bridge.

Sponsored by:

NATO's Allied Command and Transformation - ACT

Department of the Navy - Science & Technology - ONR

Department of the Navy - Science & Technology - Global



Gold patrons:

Atlas Elektronik

Popoto Modem

Silver patron: