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Summer 2014 interns at HP Labs – Karim Habak


Karim-Habak_web.jpgKarim Habak is a second year Ph.D. student at the Georgia Institute of Technology, studying computer science with a specialty in systems/networking. He’s already begun his thesis work, researching mobile networks. Habak grew up in Alexandria, Egypt, where he received his B.S. in computer and systems engineering from the Faculty of Engineering, University of Alexandria and was one of the first students to attend the city’s new Egypt-Japan University of Science and Technology, where he received an M.S. in computer science and engineering. When he’s not working, Habak enjoys playing soccer and running.


HP: Can you describe your project this summer?

I’m in the Networking and Mobility Lab and working on application profiling, which means measuring the performance of different applications. We do that to enable offloading some of their work to the Cloud and to generally enhance their performance on mobile devices.


HP: What’s the basic challenge in application profiling?

Today, we’re equipping mobile devices with more and more processing power. But as we do that, people expect their devices to keep getting faster. At the same time, many applications are becoming resource intensive, needing to access and process a huge amount of data to function. That’s become a performance bottleneck. To get around that, we can send the work to the cloud but, in some circumstances, that will also degrade the application’s performance. The challenge is in figuring out the tradeoff – you need to know enough about an application in order to make a good decision about how specifically to maximize its performance, which is where application profiling comes in.


HP: What does application profiling involve?

There are two things: First, you need to understand the application, to measure how it works. Then, based on that, you build a prediction model, which you run whenever you use the application. Ideally, the model will help you figure out if you should send the application’s work to the cloud or run it locally on your device to get higher performance. We can install these lightweight predictors on phones and run them all the time, so they’re dynamically shifting the workload as needed.


HP: How’s the work going?

What I’m helping build is a new profiling system, starting with the profiler and then implementing the machine learning techniques that gather the data and building the predictors that will determine where an application sends its work. We’ve already built the measurement tool and we’re now working on the machine learning and predictor part.


HP: Will you keep working on this after this summer?

Yes, we’ll keep collaborating on this when I go back to Georgia Tech. Being able to do that is something I really appreciate about internships at HP Labs.


HP: Will this end up contributing to your thesis research?

I’m hoping it will be the first main building block in my thesis. After this, I’ll be looking to research the offloading and decision making processes further. Having the data from the profiling that we’re doing here will allow me to figure out what’s optimal.


HP: What in particular has struck you about working here this summer?

I was surprised how open my group was in selecting our research topics. We talked about a lot of different options, but our main parameter was that it was an area that was useful to HP and that was aligned with my research - and we were able to do that perfectly. Once we decided on my project, I was also able to switch to work with other people here who were better suited to advising me on it, which was great. Lastly, it’s been great to meet the other interns here – we’ve learned a lot from each other.

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