Shihab Chowdhury awarded 2021 Alumni Gold Medal

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Shihabur R. Chowdhury has received the 2021 Alumni Gold Medal for outstanding academic performance in a doctoral program. Conferred by Alumni Relations, the prestigious institutional award, which consists of an individually crafted 24-carat gold-plated medal embossed with the university’s seal on the front, has honoured top graduating students at convocation since 1970. 

photo of Shihab Chowdhury and Raouf Boutaba, Professor and Director, School of CS

L to R: Shihab Chowdhury and Raouf Boutaba, Professor and Director at the Cheriton School of Computer Science

Shihab is a senior data engineer at Apple. He completed his PhD at the Cheriton School of Computer Science, and his BSc in computer science and engineering from the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology. During his graduate studies Shihab interned at Google and IBM Research. His PhD research spanned several areas of systems and networking, focusing specifically on network function virtualization, network virtualization, software-defined networking, and cloud computing.

Shihab began his doctoral studies in the Systems and Networking group at the Cheriton School of Computer Science in September 2013. His PhD thesis titled Resource Management in Softwarized Networks was defended successfully in February 2021

“Shihab began his graduate studies as my master’s student in May 2012,” said Raouf Boutaba, Professor and Director of the Cheriton School of Computer Science. “His research potential was abundantly clear early on, so he was fast-tracked from the master’s to the PhD program, during which he completed all eight required courses with an overall average of 93 percent. But Shihab was not only interested in mastering course content, he also immediately saw the research potential of his course projects, so he turned them into publications. His course project in CS848 was published in the Peer-to-Peer Networking and Applications journal, his project in CS854 was presented at the 9th International Conference on Network and Service Management in 2013, where it was nominated for a best paper award, and his project in CS856 was presented at a later edition of the same conference.”

Shihab’s PhD research also made many outstanding and significant contributions to resource management in softwarized communication networks, Professor Boutaba adds. “He has established himself as a leading expert in this emerging area of computer science. Shihab has a rare combination of skills. His strengths in building systems are coupled with his mastery of its mathematical foundations, thereby bringing rigorous computational theory to systems implementation.”

Shihab’s research has been highly influential in academia and industry alike. He has contributed an exceptional number of publications in top venues and his body of research has received more than 2,700 citations with an h-index of 17 on Google Scholar as of October 2021. His involvement in industry collaborations resulted in eight US patent applications of which five have been granted and are already used in production.

Shihab’s PhD research: advancing the state of the art in network softwarization

Network softwarization is an emerging paradigm where software — rather than dedicated hardware — controls the treatment of network flows, adds value to these flows by software processing, and orchestrates the on-demand creation of customized networks to meet the needs of various applications. In short, network softwarization facilitates the programmability of network equipment, allowing multiple virtual networks to function on top of a single physical network structure. 

Software-defined networking, network function virtualization, and network virtualization are the three cornerstones of the overall transformative trend toward network softwarization. Together, they empower network operators to accelerate time-to-market for new services, diversify the supply chain for networking hardware and software, and bring the benefits of agility, economies of scale, and flexibility of cloud computing to networks. The enhanced programmability made possible by softwarization creates unique opportunities for adapting network resources to support applications and users with diverse requirements. 

To effectively leverage the flexibility provided by softwarization and realize its full potential, it is of paramount importance to devise proper mechanisms to allocate resources to different applications and users, and to monitor their use over time. To this end, Shihab’s PhD research advanced the state of the art in how resources are allocated and monitored, and he created a foundation for effective resource management in softwarized networks. 

Key achievements while at Waterloo

Publication awards

  • Best Paper Award, 15th IEEE/ACM/IFIP International Conference on Network and Service Management (CNSM) 2019, Halifax, Canada
  • Best Paper Award, 5th IEEE International Conference on Network Softwarization (NetSoft) 2019, Paris, France
  • Best Paper Award, 13th IEEE/ACM/IFIP International Conference on Network and Service Management (CNSM) 2017, Tokyo, Japan
  • Best Paper Runner-up Award, 5th International Workshop on Peer-to-Peer Computing and Online Social Networking (HotPOST) 2013, held in conjunction with IEEE ICDCS 2013

Professional awards

Scholarships and funding during PhD studies

  • MITACS Globalink Research Award, MITACS Canada, 2018
  • International Experience Award, University of Waterloo, 2018
  • Ontario Graduate Scholarship, University of Waterloo, 2019–20, 2015–16
  • Ontario Graduate Scholarship — QNX Graduate Scholarship, University of Waterloo, 2018–19
  • Ontario Graduate Scholarship -— Ross & Muriel Cheriton Graduate Scholarship, University of Waterloo, 2017–18
  • President’s Graduate Scholarship, University of Waterloo, 2017–20, 2015–16
  • Graduate Excellence Scholarship, Cheriton School of Computer Science, University of Waterloo, 2017–18
  • GoBell Scholarship, University of Waterloo, 2013–15
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