Prof. Dr. Zhenhua Liu: "Sustainable IT and IT for Sustainability"


Dienstag, 23. September 2014 16.15 Uhr
Gebäude 348 (Geographisches Institut), Seminarraum 015


Energy and sustainability have become one of the most critical issues facing our society. This talk presents my research efforts in making IT systems more sustainable, and furthermore, using IT to improve the sustainability of the energy system.

IT represents the fastest growing sectors in energy usage and greenhouse gas pollution. Over the last decade there are dramatic energy efficiency improvements, but these do not necessarily lead to sustainability because more servers are demanded and dirtier energy sources are used. In the first part of my talk, I will use Geographical Load Balancing as an example to illustrate how to exploit the spatial flexibility in cloud workloads for renewable energy integration. In particular, I design algorithms with theoretically provable guarantees to deal with information uncertainties and the need of distributed control. Moving from theory to practice, I helped HP design and implement the industry’s first Net-Zero Energy Data Center.

Making IT sustainable is the first step. My broader view is that the cloud can, and should, play a significant role in improving the sustainability and efficiency of the broad energy infrastructure. The second part of the talk focuses on data center demand response as an example. I will discuss its great potential and challenges, as well as my recent efforts in both control algorithm design for customers and market design for utility companies and our society. Some of the work is under industrial transfer with HP and utility companies.

Zhenhua Liu is currently assistant professor of applied math and computer science at Stony Brook University on leave to be the ITRI-Rosenfeld Postdoctoral Fellow at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory during the following year. He received his PhD in Computer Science from California Institute of Technology (Caltech), where he was co-advised by Prof. Adam Wierman and Prof. Steven Low. Before entering Caltech, he received his B.E. degree in measurement and control and M.S. degree in computer science and technology from Tsinghua University, as well as a B.S. degree in economics from Peking University. His research interests include networking and systems, renewable energy integration, and cloud-based platforms for big data and energy management, and optimization and scheduling. His PhD work is widely cited and recognized in academia, including the Best Paper Awards at ACM GreenMetrics and IEEE Green Computing Conference, and the Pick of the Month award by IEEE Special Technical Committee on Sustainable Computing. His work of data center demand response was among the most downloaded articles of Performance Evaluation Journal in 2013. At the industrial level, he helped HP design and implement the industry’s first Net-zero Energy Data Center, which was named a 2013 Computerworld Honors Laureate. He received the Chinese Government Award for Outstanding Students Abroad in 2013.

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