REALFON: Novel algorithms for the efficient utilization of resources in future optical networks


The REALFON (Resource Allocation in Flexible Optical Networks) project aims at developing novel optimization algorithms for the efficient utilization of resources in future optical networks taking into account the security of the physical layer.

The ever-increasing growth of traffic in backbone networks is expected to exceed the available capacity provided by the fixed-grid wavelength division multiplexed (WDM) technology. Orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (OFDM)-based networks, often called flexible optical networks (FONs), have been recently proposed by the research community to address this bandwidth crunch. Flexible-grid networks provided by FONs can now handle traffic demands by the elastic allocation of spectrum contrary to the fixed grid utilized in WDM networks.

In FONs, optical fibers transfer enormous amount of data over small periods of time. Hence, important security issues arise, since even short attacks can still compromise large amounts of data. Therefore, it is important to ensure that security is considered in these evolving communication networks. Physical layer security, also known as optical layer security (OLS), offers various benefits to the entire network. For instance, implementing a secure protocol in the optical layer could relax security measures in the upper layers, thus improving throughput. Further, if the optical layer is not properly secured, any secure protocol implemented at the upper layers would still be susceptible to attacks through the lower layers and thus, valuable information can still be extracted. Therefore, by enabling OLS, the information of all higher layers will be hidden to an eavesdropper, making the confidential connections more secure.

The project’s results will reach a significant advance beyond the current state-of-the-art and will fulfil the requirements of future optical networks regarding scalability and security, as well as important savings on the spectrum utilization for network operators. Furthermore, reduction of the total cost of ownership and power consumption represent other significant results. Integer Linear Programming (ILP) formulations, relaxation techniques, and meta-heuristic algorithms will be proposed in order to deal with open issues of resource allocation in flexible optical networks.

REALFON is a research project funded by the Cyprus Research and Innovation Foundation as a result of the “2018 Cyprus Young Researcher Award” under the Physical Sciences and Engineering category. The award was given to Dr. Konstantinos Manousakis, a Research Associate at the KIOS Research and Innovation Center of Excellence of the University of Cyprus.

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This project has received funding from the Cyprus Research and Innovation Foundation under grant agreement CULTURE/AWARD-YR/0418/0014.