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EECS Student John Rula (Ph.D) and Prof. Fabián E. Bustamante (Faculty PI) of the AquaLab Labratory, have launched a new mobile application, called Namehelp Mobile.

The goal of the app is to measure the DNS performance provided by your phone company, and compare it with other options not currently available on your mobile device due to cellular company policy.

DNS (Domain Name Service) is a critical, often overlooked, piece of infrastructure within the internet. Since nearly every request made on your device must first resolve a domain name, DNS performance on your device, or any DNS failures from your cellular provider greatly impacts your mobile quality of experience.

Currently, cellular operators lock down the choice of DNS service on their devices, limiting consumer choice, and prohibiting them from potentially higher performing and more reliable Public DNS services. Help us by running these benchmarks and explore this together!

The concept was devloped, based off of the principle that almost all of the content you access on the internet is served by content delivery networks (CDNs) such as Akamai which operate a series of replica servers distributed throughout the globe. Part of what CDNs do is pick the best server to a user's location, which is the one that has the lowest network latency. Currently, a user's DNS is used as an approximation for their network location. 

The Aqua Lab, headed by Prof. Bustamante is looking at the performance of DNS within cellular networks, both the time to resolve domain names as well the performance of replicas selected for users. They have released Namehelp Mobile, which lets users measure both their DNS performance as well as their web performance (which depends significantly on the slected server). Users can then see, and choose to configure a different DNS service to see more optimal results, if a rooted phone is used.

The lab conducts research on large-scale distributed systems and networking. Their approach is mainly experimental, focusing on the design, deployment and evaluation of systems that people use. Much of our work is guided by the unique perspective provided by devices at the edge of the Internet and captured through our users/collaborators who adopt and use our software. They are driven by a desire to provide solutions to real network and systems problems, while they also take pleasure in the scientific and engineering contributions that their team make.

John Rula is a fourth-year Ph.D. Candidate in Computer Science Aqualab under his advisor, Dr. Fabián Bustamante. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Northwestern University in 2009.

Read his blog posts below:

Rula's research interests include networking and distributed systems in the wired and wireless domain. His particular interests are in the Human Factors of mobile systems, how these affect system performance and how to best design systems around them. His recent projects have explored different incentive mechanisms and how they affect human behavior patterns, with the goal being to improve mobile system performance and efficiency. In addition, He is working with end-user mobile devices for collaborative network diagnostics in enterprise environments.

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