Summer reads Part 1: Technology, Computation & Netsweeper

We have collected some of the articles published on the Network Pages to help you choose your summer reads! 

Light work(s)

Optical technologies are permeating all layers of communication networks, from optical fibre links crossing the oceans to fibre connections to every home, and are now at the verge of entering our homes too. This article is based on Prof. Ton Koonen’s valedictory lecture, it contains some parts of the lecture, and its goal is to give a short overview of the evolution of optical communication technologies. In this second article, Gianluca Kosmela from the Eindhoven University of Technology, wrote about his research on Neuromorphic photonics. Neuromorphic photonics combines neuromorphic computation, which is computation inspired by how the brain works, with photonics, the application of light in communication and computation. 

Parallel Computing

If you liked Gianluca's article on Neuromorphic Computing, and you would like to read more about parallel computing, and why its physical limitations will be soon met, we recommend you the following article. 

In his article "How parallel computing can be (in)efficient" Jan-Pieter Dorsman illustrates how various devices we use on a daily bases rely on multi-tasking to guarantee speed and efficiency. But he also illustrates that multi-tasking can become inefficient at some point.

Illustration made by Alex Nazlidis

Slaying the dragon

Alfred Aho and Jeffrey Ullman received the 2020 A.M Turing Award for their contributions to computer science. Paul Klint from the CWI, wrote an article for the Network Pages exaplining how their contributions have shaped the principles, techniques and tools for writing compilers.

Echoes in the online meeting rooms

It has been observed that the algorithms used by various social media platforms lead to the formation of echo chambers, online communitiets wherein the same opinions are bounced around, endlessly ‘echoing’ with barely any change. Want to learn more about it? You can have a look at this article!


If you were born in the previous century, then chances are high that you have spent quite some hours playing Minesweeper, the classic puzzle game that used to be installed on every computer. If you liked this game and you would like to try a network variant of it then you can have a look at this article written by Martijn Gösgens

Traffic and queues

On the Network Pages you can read various articles concerning methods to avoid traffic accumulation and how to handle queues. There is something for all tastes, from general articles to more specific and in depth. You can have a look at our serials Decisions in an uncertain world and Traffic Congestion.

In his article Lucas van Kreveld described the steady-state distribution, a very important concept in modern probability theory and its application, using as an example a bike-sharing company. 

In her article Nikki Levering wrote about navigation systems, how they currently work and in which ways they could be improved to make better predictions. Rik Timmerman takes over and discusses in more detail a method that could be implemented in the future to reduce traffic congestion.

In his article Jaap Storm dives a little bit deeper in the math and shows how a result from probability theory, the Central Limit Theorem, can be used to make predictions about traffic.

Queueing theory is closely related to traffic since a traffic jam can be seen as a large queue. But there is much more going on in queueing theory, in her article Mariska Heemskerk described how the golden rule of staffing works. This method allows for example call centers to decide how many call center agents are necessary, given the amount of incoming call-traffic, to make sure that clients properly served. For another daily application of queueing theory read Ellen's article, who takes us to Disneyland and shows how some insights from queueing theory can help you wait less and experience more! Mathematicians working in queueing theory also love to compare service policies to see which one can reduce waiting. In real life what we mostly encounter is the first-come-first-served policy. What would you think of a last-come-first-served policy? Youri Raaijmakers wrote his thoughts on this!

Managing the Internet

In her article "Google PageRank: how search engines `bring order to the Web'" Nelly Litvak explains how PageRank works, a mathematical algorithm and a crucial innovation of Google. In his article "The quest for a better Internet" Mark van der Boor discusses two methods that can help decrease the communication needed in data centers, guaranteeing that our internet connection is not impacted by the millions of users that join the internet daily.

Wi-Fi not working properly?

Always complaining that your Wi-Fi does not work well? In his article "How does wireless communication work?" Matteo Sfragara explains how various protocols used in communication networks can enhance or delay signals being transmitted. Many times it is not your phone causing the delay! An animation developed by Thom Carstemans shows two protocols in action.

In your browser there is an auction taking place

When you browse the internet a lot of websites show you banners with advertisements. And if you reload the page some new flashy advertisement pops up in the same place. Did you know that while your web page is loading an auction takes place? Read the article of Ruben Brokkelkamp!

Artificial Intelligence for beginners

In his article Robert Fitzner explains us how he managed to "teach" his computer to learn how to catch a ball. All steps are also explained with animations you can freely use. The JavaScript code is also available!

Next week Part 2 of our summer reads, interviews and personal blogs!

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