About:
I am an NSF Center for Science of Information postdoctoral researcher at Texas A&M University.
My research is in the areas of security, distributed systems, networks, and network information theory. More specifically, I work on the design of secure protocols for wireless adhoc networks and towards an informationtheoretic understanding of networks with bidirectional data flows.
My advisor is Professor P.R. Kumar. I am also a member of the Computer Engineering and Systems Group.
I received my Bachelors and Masters in Electrical Engineering from the University of Waterloo in 2006 and 2008 respectively. I was advised by Professor LiangLiang Xie. I received my Doctorate in Electrical Engineering from the University of Illinois UrbanaChampaign in 2013.
Contact:
Address: 188 Bizzell St, Room 333A, College Station, TX, 778433259
Email: jonathan DOT ponniah AT gmail DOT com
Monograph

A Clean Slate Approach to Secure Wireless Networking,
Jonathan Ponniah, YihChun Hu, and P.R. Kumar
now publishers, Foundations and TrendsŪ in Networking: Vol. 9: No. 1, pp 1105., August 2015
[BOOK]
Journal

An Achievable Rate Region for the TwoWay MultipleRelay Channel,
Jonathan Ponniah, LiangLiang Xie, and P.R. Kumar
In preparation, available upon request.

A Clean Slate Approach to Secure AdHoc Wireless Networking  Open Unsynchronized Networks,
Jonathan Ponniah, YihChun Hu, and P.R. Kumar
Submitted to the Transactions on Control of Networked Systems
[PAPER]

A SystemTheoretic Clean Slate Approach to Provably Secure AdHoc Wireless Networking
Jonathan Ponniah, YihChun Hu, and P.R. Kumar
TCNS, IEEE Transactions on Control of Networked Systems Volume: 34, No: 1, November 2014
[PAPER]

An Orthogonal MultipleAccess Coding Scheme
Jonathan Ponniah, YihChun Hu, P.R. Kumar
CIS, Communications in Information and Systems, Volume: 12, No: 1, 2012
[PAPER]
Conference

A Clean Slate Design for Secure Wireless Adhoc Networks  Part 2: Open Unsynchronized Networks,
Jonathan Ponniah, YihChun Hu, and P.R. Kumar
WiOpt 2015, 13th International Symposium on Modeling and Optimization in Mobile, Ad Hoc, and Wireless Networks, Mumbai India, May 2015
[PAPER]

A Clean Slate Design for Secure Wireless Adhoc Networks  Part 1: Closed Synchronized Networks,
Jonathan Ponniah, YihChun Hu, and P.R. Kumar
WiOpt 2015, 13th International Symposium on Modeling and Optimization in Mobile, Ad Hoc, and Wireless Networks, Mumbai India, May 2015
[PAPER]

The TwoWay MultiRelay Channel,
Jonathan Ponniah, LiangLiang Xie, and P.R. Kumar
ITW 2015, IEEE Information Theory Workshop, Jerusalem Israel, May 2015
[PAPER]

An Achievable Rate Region for the TwoWay TwoRelay Channel,
Jonathan Ponniah, LiangLiang Xie, and P.R. Kumar
ISIT 2008, IEEE International Symposium on Information Theory, Toronto Canada, July 2008
[PAPER]
Thesis

A Clean Slate Approach to Secure Wireless Networking.
Jonathan Ponniah.
Doctoral Thesis, ECE University of Illinois UrbanaChampaign, August 2013.
[THESIS]

An Information Theoretic Framework for TwoWay Relay Networks.
Jonathan Ponniah.
Masters Thesis, ECE University of Waterloo, August 2008.
[THESIS]
Projects

An InformationTheoretic Approach to Bidirectional Networks
The "twoway multirelay channel" in information theory refers to a network in which information flows simultaneously and interactively in both directions between a pair of source/destination nodes with the assistance of intermediate relay nodes. This particular channel is implicit in almost all forms of modern communication. For instance, every packet transmitted over the internet by a user, must be routed to its final destination through intermediate routers, and acknowledged by the destination upon reception. The informationtheoretic approach allows the channel statistics to be completely arbitrary; the transmitted sequences of all nodes potentially influence the received sequences at each node through an unspecified probability transition matrix. The problem is to characterize the capacity region; the set of rate pairs at which information can be conveyed with perfect reliability. In the arbitrary discrete memoryless channel under consideration, there are few tools with which to work. One of these tools is the information theoretic cutset outerbound which determines the rate vectors not in the capacity region. This outer bound is generally not achievable with the kinds of encoding schemes known today.
The TwoWay TwoRelay Channel
We consider the twoway tworelay channel. Previous work by Xie obtained an "achievable rate" (a lower bound on the capacity region) for the oneway multiple region, structurally similar to the outerbound. We attempt to obtain the natural extension of this rate to the twoway tworelay channel. We discover that the structure of this "desired" rate region has a fundamental internal tension within it; the rates in one direction can only be obtained at the expense of the rates in the other direction. Therefore every effort to achieve this rate region fails.
Papers: [ISIT '08]
The Symmetric TwoWay MultipleRelay Channel
The internal tensions within the structure of the desired rate region cause a complete collapse of this structure when there are more than two relays in the network. Any effort to recover this rate region is realized in a series of decisions that individually favor the data rate in one direction over the data rate in the other direction. These decisions yield an encoding scheme and corresponding rate region. However, these rate regions and encoding schemes are intractable to write down. First of all, the number of encoding schemes is exponential in the number of nodes. Second, the rate region corresponding to each encoding scheme depends on the transmitted sequences and the history of decoded messages at each node. These parameters are specific to the encoding scheme and are intractable to explicitly characterize as the number of nodes becomes large. Moreover, these encoding schemes do not collectively recover the desired rate region, nor is any particular rate region universally included in another region. We discover that in a special kind of symmetric channel, the effort to recover the desired rate region is similar to the "reverseorder draft"; a process by which teams are ranked to pick players out of a common pool in the NFL draft. It turns out that the achievable region corresponding to this encoding scheme can be beautifully expressed in terms of the "reverseorder" ranking.
Papers: [ITW '15]
The TwoWay MultipleRelay Channel
We discover that all of the encoding schemes and corresponding achievable rate regions are specific realizations of a deeper structure and its underlying symmetry. The effort to recover the desired rate region ultimately creates the "ground" out of which all the particular encoding schemes and rate regions are realized. Even though each individual encoding scheme and rate region fails to recover the desired rate region, and is intractable to characterize by itself, together these encoding schemes and regions share a common ground. This ground is structurally expressed in the rank assignment, wherein each node in the network is assigned a unique rank according to a certain procedure. All encoding schemes and achievable rate regions can be represented in terms of these so called "valid rankings". Hence the achievable rate region can be completely characterized. The effort to reach the structure of the informationtheoretic outer bound, though ultimately futile, creates a new structure out of the myriad ways in which the effort can be realized. This discovery opens the door to an information theory for multihop communication in wireless networks with multiway data flows. For the twoway physically degraded symmetric Gaussian channel the reverseorder ranking achieves the capacity region asymptotically in the number of nodes.
 Secure Wireless AdHoc Networking
Wireless adhoc networks lack a centralized controller. Hence, the nodes themselves must arrive at a consensus that accurately estimates the network topology, the feasible routes, and the corresponding transmission schedule. A protocol specifies the actions that each node must carry out, based on its internal state, to form a functioning network. A secure protocol ensures that the network retains its functionality even if adversarial nodes in the network behave in arbitrary or deliberately malicious ways. Secure protocols often inherit the legacy architecture of unsecured protocols, where any identified vulnerabilities are "patched". Unfortunately, it is impossible to know for certain whether all such vulnerabilities have been identified, or whether there are still others that have yet to be detected. As a result, the design process itself turns into an arms race between more sophisticated attacks and corresponding patches. At no point in this process is it possible to make any security guarantees.
Closed Synchronized Networks
We propose a "clean slate" systematic approach to secure protocol design that provides comprehensive security and performance guarantees contingent on some underlying model assumptions. The design problem is framed as the solution to a game between protocols and adversarial strategies, where the payoff of each outcome corresponds to the functionality retained by the network despite the adversarial activity. Since the adversarial nodes choose a strategy after the protocol has been announced, the maxmin payoff (the "best worst case" payoff), is optimal. We propose a protocol that achieves this payoff regardless of the actions of the adversarial nodes. Moreover, we show that the protocol is actually minmax optimal; there is a saddlepoint in the strategy space between protocols and adversarial strategies. Furthermore, we show that the adversarial nodes are strategically limited to either jamming or conforming to the protocol. These results assume that the legitimate nodes are both synchronized and simultaneously activated, so that no other legitimate nodes need join the network thereafter (the network is closed).
Papers: [WiOpt'15], [FnT Ch.14]
Secure Clock Synchronization
We consider the problem of secure clock synchronization in a network with adversarial and legitimate nodes. The legitimate nodes have local clocks that are relatively affine. The relative clock parameters between each pair of nodes, the skew and offset, can be measured by an exchange of timing packets provided the nodes generate correct timestamps. These parameters can then be disseminated to the rest of the network allowing each node to obtain an accurate estimate of a common reference clock. The problem occurs when adversarial nodes generate false timestamps that cause inconsistent estimates of the reference clock. We propose a "consistency check" algorithm that ensures the legitimate nodes obtain consistent estimates of a common reference clock to within any desired accuracy.
Papers: [FnT Ch.5]
Communication in HalfDuplex, Unsynchronized Networks
In unsynchronized wireless adhoc networks, the nodes must broadcast probe packets to discovery their neighbors and synchronize their local clocks. However, if the nodes are halfduplex (they cannot simultaneously transmit and receive messages), then even this tentative step will fail if two neighbors are always simultaneously in transmit mode. We create an orthogonal MAC code that guarantees any node will exchange packets of fixed length within a bounded time, provided the skews of the local clocks are also bounded.
Papers: [CIS '12],
[FnT Ch.6]
Closed Unsynchronized Networks
We extend the clean slate approach to closed unsynchronized networks, by incorporating the consistency check and the orthogonal MAC code into the protocol. The new protocol enables a collection of unsynchronized nodes infiltrated with adversarial nodes to form a functioning network operating at minmax optimality. Moreover, the adversarial nodes are able to cooperate fully, whereas the legitimate nodes do not know which nodes are adversarial. The protocol addresses all stages of the operation from primordial birth until the expiry of the operating lifetime.
Papers: [WiOpt '15], [TCNS '15], [FnT 'Ch.7]
Open Unsynchronized Networks
We extend the clean slate approach to open unsynchronized networks where legitimate nodes can be activated at any time. We include a "merge" process in the protocol to ensure that any pair of adjacent subnetworks will periodically interrupt regular operation to broadcast probe packets and listen for the probe packets from other nodes. The problem is that adversarial nodes might exploit this process to lure adjacent subnetworks into making repeated spurious merge attempts, which are expensive with respect to the overhead and throughput loss. We show using a finitestate machine argument that the legitimate nodes will eventually merge into the same network regardless of what the adversarial nodes do. Moreover, we show that protocol operates at the minmax optimal throughput, evaluated from the birth of the last legitimate node.
Papers: [TCNS '16]
Talks

An Achievable Rate Region for the TwoWay MultipleRelay Channel
To be presented at the graduation day talk, ITA 2016, San Diego, Feburary 2016
[SLIDES]

A Clean Slate Approach to Secure Wireless Networking
Invited lecture for the ITSOC School of Information Theory, Purdue, June 2013
[SLIDES]
[VIDEO]

A Clean Slate Approach to Secure Wireless Networking
Invited talk at MIT, December 2013
[SLIDES]
Collaborators
Service
I reviewed papers in the following venues:
IEEE Transactions on Information Theory
IEEE/ACM Transactions on Networking
IEEE Transactions on Wireless Communications
IFAC Workshop on Estimation and Control of Networked Systems
Teaching Assistant

Digital Signal Processing
Course: ECE 413, Summer 2007, University of Waterloo
Professor: Oleg Michailovich
Role: I managed this course with Prof. Michailovich. I taught the lectures when Prof. Michailovich was away, prepared weekly tutorials, and graded the homework assignments and exams.
Relevant Graduate Coursework
 University of Illinois UrbanaChampaign:
MATH 540: Real Analysis
MATH 541: Functional Analysis
MATH 561: Theory of Probability
MATH 561: Theory of Probability II
MATH 580: Combinatorial Mathematics
ECE 515: Control System Theory and Design
ECE 567: Communication Network Analysis
ECE 534: Random Processes
ECE 555: Control of Stochastic Systems
 University of Waterloo:
STAT 901: Theory of Probability I
STAT 902/ECE 784: Introduction to Stochastic Calculus
STAT 850: Estimation and Hypothesis Testing
ECE 612: Information Theory
ECE 710: Network Information Theory
ECE 610: Broadband Communication Networks
