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Creating Peer-to-Peer Video-on-Demand Systems

5/11/2010 5:15:00 AM

On Monday evening, students in computer science professor Klara Nahrstedt’s Multimedia Systems (CS 414) course took part in a unique competition, and demonstrated the video-on-demand peer-to-peer streaming systems they have built over the past semester.  All students in the course have been working towards this goal, but only the top 3 teams (of an original 10) competed for prizes on Monday night. 

The students have been working in teams in the Pavlov Media Multimedia lab to create a system that is capable of fetching video segments from a video server or other neighboring peers, and put the videos into the local video buffers. As part of the competition, the teams were judged by Prof. Nahrstedt, members of the CS department staff, and Marc Goodman, Director of the University Innovations Program at Alcatel-Lucent. 

Goodman works with universities across America looking for projects that he can use to showcase innovations in multimedia and mobile applications, as well as to create student awareness of Alcatel-Lucent’s developers community ( 

“There’s a big difference between the way that students think and the way that people in the workforce think.  Because of the availability of powerful mobile devices and social networking, the way students look at innovation, problem solving, and applications development are different,” says Goodman.  He lists willingness to try new things, understanding the need for applications to be easy to use, and developing compelling user interfaces as particular areas where student innovations often lead innovation.

The student-created systems were required to play video from the buffer to a GUI (graphical user interface) interface; respond to commands like play, pause, and stop; manage the video buffer and fetch missing video segments over the network to display to the end user; perform time synchronization so that the video content is displayed in streaming mode; and handle peer failure by adaptively fetching content from the server or find new neighbors in the event of neighbor failure.  Extra features that the students could include for additional consideration included a seek bar to jump to a particular point in the movie, and the ability to play videos full screen.  Teams were also judged on their presentations.

The “Fiery Cheese” team, comprised of Richard Shen and Simon Jenkins won first place in the competition.  Richard and Simon created a system that used a gossip based approach to peer-to-peer streaming to create a system that seamlessly fetched and displayed video on multiple peers.  In addition, their system included a seek bar and the ability to play videos at full screen, and the team was able to demonstrate their enhanced audio quality, of which they were “extremely proud”.

The second place team, comprised of Naveen Cherukuri, Pooja Agarwal, and James Barret created a system they called MMNet.  Like Fiery Cheese, their system relied on a gossip protocol and was able to display at full screen.  Taking third place in the competition was the team of James Claug, Nathan Sims, Hendrik Johan, and Chad Zamzow. 

Marc Goodman, the judge from Alactel-Lucent, found himself extremely impressed with the competition.  “The students are fantastic.  Their systems were exciting and innovative, and they’ve really shown thought leadership,” said Goodman.