ECE Faculty Members Coauthor Best Paper Candidate in Leading Conference

Dr. Ramachandran Vaidyanathan presenting at the International Parallel and Distributed Processing Symposium.

A team of researchers from LSU and Kent State University has been recognized for their paper at the prestigious International Parallel and Distributed Processing Symposium (IPDPS). This symposium, organized by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Technical Committee on Parallel Processing, is a leading conference in the field. With the best paper candidates representing about the top 1% of papers submitted to the conference, this is a significant achievement. The paper, titled "On Doorway Egress by Autonomous Robots," was presented during a plenary session at the conference.

The authors of the paper include Professor Ramachandran Vaidyanathan from LSU's Electrical & Computer Engineering (ECE) department, Professor Jerry Trahan, who serves as the Chair of LSU's ECE department, Associate Professor of Computer Science Gokarna Sharma from Kent State University (who obtained his Ph.D. in Computer Science from LSU), and Rory Hector, who is currently with the Naval Surface Warfare Center-Panama City Division and earned his Ph.D. in electrical engineering from LSU.

The research focuses on the distributed operation of autonomous mobile robots on a 2D plane. In each cycle, a robot captures an environment snapshot, performs computations based on that snapshot, and moves towards a desired destination. These actions can be fully asynchronous, meaning they occur independently in time. However, collisions can happen if robots share positions or their paths intersect.

These robots have limited capabilities and rely on local information to achieve a global goal. The specific problem investigated by the research team is "Doorway Egress," which involves robots safely exiting through a doorway from one side of a wall to the other. Coordinating the motion of the robots becomes a fundamental challenge, as collisions must be avoided during the egress process. While there are multiple non-colliding paths for the robots to exit through the door, the key question is whether a distributed algorithm can be developed to enable the robots to select a safe and efficient path. The paper establishes that without some form of synchronous operation, exiting through the door in a single time unit is impossible, regardless of the door's width. However, the researchers demonstrate that with a type of synchrony called "semi-synchrony," the robots are able to exit the within one time unit. The paper also presents alternative algorithms that offer different trade-offs in terms of time and model abilities.