On March 16 the German Research Foundation (DFG) awarded Anja Feldmann the Gottfried-Wilhelm-Leibniz Prize, one of the most coveted awards for researchers. The university professor and team manager at T-Labs in Berlin explains in an interview what she is working on.
Prof. Dr. Feldmann, what does this prize mean to you? I was really surprised when I heard about this decision. The Leibniz Prize is one of the most important German research prizes and is endowed with €2.5 million. This sum opens up even greater freedom for our research and gives us the opportunity to drive forward our international strategy. When I say "we", I mean my team at T-Labs, who I want to thank for their wonderful support and cooperation. What research are you currently working on? I lead the "Intelligent Networks and Management of Distributed Systems" department at Berlin Technical University and that is also my area of focus at T-Labs. The basic idea is to use this approach to make the Internet faster and more secure. So we are designing a new architecture for the Internet using a "clean slate design." So far the Web has continually been extended to include new usage options without considering the priority of certain uses when transferring data. We are working on dividing up the network into different areas in order to better meet the needs and requirements of users. What effects will this have on "normal" Internet users? Imagine you want to download a film and use the Internet to make a call at the same time. To date that often resulted in connection problems and lower quality. By virtually dividing up the Internet and controlling it smartly, transferring voice data would have priority in future - because you can assume that perfect quality for the telephone call is more important to the user than downloading as quickly as possible. This is just one example of how we could avoid network congestion with a new Internet architecture. What does your work at T-Labs actually look like? Rest assured it is not lab work behind closed doors. For example, at the TU Berlin campus we have installed transmission stations for wireless Internet reception on nearly all of the roofs - 46 in total. This "Berlin Open Wireless Lab" is available to all Technical University employees and students free of charge. In return we are using it to test individual steps in our research under the real-life conditions of mass use. This opportunity also emphasizes one of the massive advantages of T-Labs, which is a private research organization that is attached to the college: the best-possible interaction between technological development, economic benefits, and practical application.