Dr. Guan-Hua Tu and Dr. Hui Liu have been awarded an NSF NeTS small grant

Here is the abstract:

The cellular network is a global infrastructure that provides seamless data, voice, and text services, making it a key player in today's connected world. The 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) is a consortium of seven telecommunications standards organizations that work together to develop protocols for global mobile telecommunications, such as 5G NR. However, in practice, many non-3GPP standardized policies, operations, and requirements are often deployed in operational cellular networks and mobile devices in accordance with local regulatory requirements or specific operator needs. These non-3GPP standardized elements can lead to unforeseen and detrimental issues when device vendors and carriers need to add or revise protocols and services to comply with them. However, the negative impact of non-3GPP standardized elements is largely unexplored. Therefore, this project aims to advance the technology for identifying non-3GPP standardized elements and assessing their potential negative impact on the overall performance and security of cellular networks. The project's novelties are to comprehensively discover non-3GPP standardized elements, including implicit and hidden ones, which have a negative real-world impact, using multidisciplinary techniques. The project's broader significance and importance are to extend the state-of-the-art cellular network research to a new frontier, investigate original problems that entreat innovative non-3GPP standardized policies, operations, and requirements exploration, analysis, network modeling, data collection, data mining solutions, and pave the way for a new research endeavor to enable more robust, resilient, and secure cellular networks. Additionally, it contributes to the nation's workforce with students well-trained in mobile networks, artificial intelligence, and natural language processing.

This project comprises three research thrusts: (1) developing new techniques for identifying non-3GPP standardized elements. This includes SpecInsight, an innovative 3GPP technical specification analysis tool that uses multidisciplinary techniques to comprehend and search 3GPP technical specifications efficiently and intelligently, and DocIntrpr, a tool that automatically extracts the relevant policies, operations, and requirements from various non-3GPP documents using natural language processing techniques; (2) uncovering hidden non-3GPP standardized elements. Not all non-3GPP standardized elements are written in publicly available documents. Therefore, we propose to develop SpecVerifer, a model-checking tool that analyzes 3GPP technical specifications formally, which aims to identify all necessary but missing designs since they are either complemented by hidden non-3GPP standardized elements or causing unexpected results; and (3) developing a new testing platform, open5G-Flex, to efficiently assess the impact of various non-3GPP standardized elements without suffering from the limited access to cellular infrastructure and possible ethical/legal issues when conducting experiments.

(Date Posted: 2023-09-05)