Auburn professor authors book on Age of Information concept

Published: Nov 18, 2020 4:31 PM

By Alyssa Turner

An Auburn Engineering assistant professor is the co-author of a new monograph revealing the Age of Information (AoI) concept and its connections with information theory, signal processing and control theory.

Yin Sun, an electrical and computer engineering assistant professor, collaborated with a research group from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to produce the book, "Age of Information: A New Metric for Information Freshness." It details the analytical tools and insightful results on the generation of information-update packets and the design of network protocols when forwarding the packets to their destinations.

The book is centered around AoI, which provides a means of quantifying the freshness of information and an opportunity to improve the performance of real-time systems and networks. As research on AoI has progressed, it has become apparent that well-known design principles and traditional data networks must be re-examined for an enhanced, optimal information freshness in emerging real-time applications.

Sun notes the concept surrounding information freshness is necessary and present in real-world everyday situations. These functions include, but are not limited to, the monitoring of the weather, stock market and autonomous driving, all of which require the surrounding environment to be assessed in a timely way.

Sun acknowledges the importance of information freshness and the crucial role it plays in an intense setting like robotic surgery.

“Remote surgery is one example of the essentiality of the freshness of information that is needed in real time systems and networks,” Sun said. “The robot is there with the patient, but the doctor is controlling the machine at a distance. The timely information about the real-time operation and robot arm are necessary for conducting a controlled, safe operation.”

Although information freshness is essential to modern technologies and everyday lives, it is a newly developed concept. The research topic was introduced in 2011, and Sun began investigating it in 2016. Since then, the topic has gained fast-growing attention from researchers. Sun has recognized the topic’s importance and founded the workshop, Age of Information Workshop, which is affiliated with the IEEE International Conference on Computer Communications, a leading conference in the area of networking.

With his book and workshop available to the research community, Sun hopes his efforts are the starting point of conveying the importance of AoI to the industry, the students and even broader audiences.

“It is very important to introduce the latest developments in the research community to our engineering students and show them how useful it is for right now and their future job,” Sun said. “This is why I am trying to keep a connection between the research and education. I am training graduate and undergraduate students to become future leaders in the field.”

Sun’s recent work, with his graduate student Tasmeen Zaman Ornee, received the best paper award from the 17th International Symposium on Modeling and Optimization in Mobile, Ad Hoc and Wireless Networks.

Sun also received the Auburn Author Award of 2020 for his book.

“Age of Information: A New Metric for Information Freshness” is published by Morgan & Claypool Publishers.

Media Contact: Chris Anthony,, 334.844.3447

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