Edmund Yeh wants to give the archi­tec­ture of the Internet a makeover–and he’s fully aware of the mag­ni­tude of this endeavor.

It sounds like a big under­taking and it is,” says Yeh, a new asso­ciate pro­fessor of elec­trical and com­puter engi­neering at Northeastern.

Last year, Yeh was part of an inter­dis­ci­pli­nary research team from nine insti­tu­tions that received a $7.9 mil­lion grant from the National Sci­ence Foun­da­tion, as part of the Future Internet Archi­tec­ture Pro­gram to redesign the way the Internet is struc­tured. Yeh intends to transfer this grant to North­eastern. Among his col­leagues are UCLA com­puter sci­ence pro­fessor and lead prin­cipal inves­ti­gator Lixia Zhang, and Dr. Van Jacobson at Palo Alto Research Center, chief designer of the archi­tec­ture struc­ture being investigated.

Yeh says the web cur­rently oper­ates like a tele­phone net­work by making con­nec­tions between indi­vidual com­puters. But mil­lions of people who access the Internet through iPads and smart­phones have caused this struc­ture to become inef­fi­cient, he says.

Today,” he says, “we have a net­work that is ill-​​suited for con­tent distribution.”

If 100 mil­lion people want to watch a YouTube video, for example, 100 mil­lion unique con­nec­tions would have to be opened, which, Yeh says, is an enor­mous waste of resources. Instead, he sug­gests the Internet should operate like a ware­house, in which infor­ma­tion is stored within the net­work itself. The Internet’s new struc­ture would revolve around the con­tent being dis­trib­uted online, rather than the users who send and receive it.

As Yeh puts it, “If you want to buy a TV, you don’t call up Sam­sung in Korea. You go to the nearest Best Buy.”

So if someone reads the front page of The New York Times’ web­site, that infor­ma­tion would be cached and made acces­sible to other users searching for the same content–rather than having them draw it from the orig­inal web­site over and over again. This inno­v­a­tive approach, he says, would dra­mat­i­cally reduce net­work con­ges­tion and align with the needs of mobile users, who, Yeh says, must be able to manip­u­late and send their data from any­where in the world.

This trend is con­sis­tent with the move to cloud com­puting,” Yeh says. “People must be more mobile. They can’t just work on par­tic­ular con­nec­tions or machines.”

Prior to joining the North­eastern fac­ulty, Yeh served as an asso­ciate pro­fessor of elec­trical engi­neering, com­puter sci­ence and sta­tis­tics at the Yale School of Engi­neering and Applied Sci­ence. He earned his PhD from the Mass­a­chu­setts Insti­tute of Tech­nology in 2001.

His research also includes tack­ling some of society’s greatest chal­lenges from a net­work sci­ence per­spec­tive, including wire­less net­work cyber­se­cu­rity and smart power grids.

He is par­tic­u­larly inter­ested in studying why cas­cading power fail­ures occur and lead to black­outs and how to pre­dict these events before they happen.

The power net­work is extremely impor­tant given the global energy chal­lenges we have today,” Yeh says. “You need to have a network-​​oriented view to under­stand it.”