Dell Research Talk - the Internet of Things



The Internet of Things (IoT)

Daniel Ford, MSc (UBC '85), Ph.D (Waterloo '91)

Executive Director, Chief Scientist Mobility and IoT.

Dell Research, Santa Clara, California.

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Until recently, most of our civilization’s computational and communications infrastructure has been built to a scale that is a rough function of the size of the human population.  This includes the global telephone system, the Internet, and the size of the data centers that power Facebook and Google, among many other examples.  That infrastructure was created to support the direct activities of humans as they made telephone calls, sent emails, or clicked on web pages.  If the human population was much larger than it is today, all of that infrastructure would need to be larger as well; if the population was much smaller, the infrastructure all could be much smaller, as well.  Today, that relationship is quickly evaporating.

This talk will introduce the Internet of Things (IoT) as a departure from human centric computing in which all computations can be traced back to an action taken by a human.  Instead, in the world of the IoT, humans are “out-of-the-loop,” and, as such, their numbers are not a “constraint” on the growth of computational infrastructure.  In the IoT, the population of devices initiating computations and requiring communications is virtually unrestricted; hundreds of billions of network connected devices is not unrealistic. This development will have profound implications and will create many opportunities, and many issues. 

The talk will examine some of the technology behind the IoT, how it is likely to develop, and some of the unexpected consequences that arise.  It will then discuss some of the research problems that are emerging in this area as well as some of the potential approaches to their solution.


Daniel Ford is the Chief Scientist for Mobility and the IoT at Dell Research in Santa Clara, California.  Prior to joining Dell he ran a small start-up in New York, and previous to that was a Research Staff Member and Manager in the Department of Computer Science at the IBM Almaden Research Center in San Jose, California.  Daniel earned a B.Sc. (Hons.) from Simon Fraser University, a M.Sc. from the University of British Columbia, and a Ph.D. from the University of Waterloo, all in Computer Science.  He resides with his family just North of New York City.

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