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All information current as of 01:00:42 Pacific Time, Thursday, 10 March 2005.

The Intelligent Wireless Web

   by H. Peter Alesso / Craig F. Smith

    Addison-Wesley Professional
    04 December, 2001


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Editorial description(s):

From Book News, Inc.
This work presents a vision of the Web's near future and overviews the technologies that will make it possible. It explores developments in speech recognition, mobile wireless devices, network integration, and software, examining the convergence and synergy among five key technological components: speech as a primary user interface; wireless personal area networks; an integrated wired/wireless network infrastructure; supporting wireless protocols; and intelligent applications. Appendices list standards organizations, protocols, and security issues. Alesso has 20 years of experience as a group leader at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.Copyright © 2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR

Minerva Tantoco-Hobbs, Director of Advanced Technology & Media Lab, Answerthink
"If you buy one book on the intelligent Internet, this should be it."

Book Info
Details all the technologies, all the candidate protocols, and all the challenges to be met along the way to build the intelligent wireless Web. Presents a fascinating, insightful vision of the Web's near future, with an overview of the technologies that will make it possible. Softcover.

From the Back Cover

"If you buy one book on the intelligent Internet, this should be it."—Minerva Tantoco-Hobbs, Director of Advanced Technology & Media Lab, Answerthink

"This book runs guns to the revolutionaries, detailing all the technologies, all the candidate protocols, and all the challenges to be met along the way to build the intelligent wireless Web."—Michael Swaine, Editor-at-Large, Dr. Dobb's Journal

Written by two authors at the forefront of the Internet revolution, The Intelligent Wireless Web presents a fascinating, insightful vision of the Web's near future, with an overview of the technologies that will make it possible. This book explores technology developments in speech recognition, mobile wireless devices, network integration, and software that will be far more responsive to our informational and transactional needs.

The Intelligent Wireless Web examines the convergence and synergy among five key technological components: speech used as a primary user interface; wireless personal area networks (WPANs); an integrated wired/wireless network infrastructure; supporting wireless protocols; and intelligent applications. It investigates available technologies and standards that are currently being developed to bring these goals into the mainstream of Internet use.

Inside you'll find an introduction to a wide variety of topics, as well as an in-depth look at the fundamental relationships between cutting-edge technologies such as:

Ongoing research projects, such as MIT's Project OXYGEN, are used throughout to illustrate elements of the intelligent wireless Web in action. Appendixes present standards organizations, mobile protocols, security issues, and a case study of knowledge management. With an understanding of the trends, goals, and technologies described in The Intelligent Wireless Web, you will be well-positioned to develop your own strategic planning for the coming world of the ubiquitous Internet.


About the Author

H. Peter Alesso is an engineer with an M.S. and an advanced engineering degree from M.I.T., along with twenty years of research experience at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). As Engineering Group Leader at LLNL, he led a team of physicists and engineers in a wide range of successful multimillion-dollar software development research projects. Peter has extensive experience with innovative applications across a wide range of supercomputers, workstations and networks. His areas of interest include computer languages, algebras, graphs, and Web application software. He has published several software titles and numerous scientific journal and conference articles.

Craig Smith, PhD., is an engineer with thirty years of experience in research and development and application of advanced technologies. He is currently Deputy Associate Director of the Energy and Environment Directorate at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. He is responsible for a wide range of multimillion-dollar projects and he is a collaborator on several international research initiatives. His areas of interest include sensors, robotics, and automated systems; information technology applications; and future energy systems. He has published numerous scientific journal and conference articles on advanced engineering topics. Dr. Smith received his Ph.D. in Nuclear Science and Engineering from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in 1975.


Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Throughout history, there have been many important inventions, such as the loco-motive, the airplane, and plastic. But few inventions have transformed the world in a revolutionary way. Revolutionary change occurs only when there is a dramatic improvement in the efficiency of human activities. Such improvements are realized over varying periods of time, as the impact of the revolution permeates society. Only change producing orders of magnitude improvement can produce a true revolution.

Is the current Information Age a force for revolutionary change? To place the Information Age in historical perspective, let's contrast it with two great transformational events: the agricultural revolution (beginning around 8000 B.C. and continuing through around A.D. 1700) and the industrial revolution (beginning around A.D. 1700 and still spreading across the world even today).

Ten thousand years ago, humans lived in migratory groups and fed themselves by hunting, herding, fishing, and foraging. The rise of agriculture at that time was a dramatic turning point in human social development. Farmers were able to use 1 acre of land to produce the equivalent food supply that a hunter-gather produced from 100 acres. This 100-fold improvement in land utilization fueled the agricultural revolution and not only enabled far more efficient food production but also provided the new ability of producing a surplus greater than the needs of subsistence. This excess resulted in a new era based upon flourishing trade.

The agricultural transition progressed throughout the world for thousands of years, but was still incomplete when, at the end of the seventeenth century, the industrial revolution unleashed the second global revolutionary transition. Societies up until this period used human and animal muscle to provide the primary energy necessary to run the economy. As late as the French revolution, 14 million horses and 24 million oxen provided the physical force that supported the European economy.

The industrial revolution introduced machines that could produce 100 times the power of a farmer and his horse. Thus the industrial revolution represented a second 100-fold increase in human productivity in terms of increased power in the hands of the laborer.

The latest historic turning point may be the Information Age. The Information Age can be traced to the 1950s with the emergence of the transistor as the initiation of a wave of innovative synergies. The resulting technological development brought microprocessor, computer, satellite, laser, and fiberoptic technologies. By the 1990s, these, in turn, fostered an enormous new capacity to disseminate information.

Although it is still to be determined whether the Information Age is actually a revolution comparable to the agricultural and industrial revolutions, it remains a strong candidate. Indeed, service workers today complete knowledge transactions many times faster through intelligent software using photons over IP packet switching compared with a clerk using electrons over circuit-switching technology just a few decades ago. Therefore the basis for the information revolution may be the falling cost of information-based transactions.

How does the Information Age save time and thereby improve worker productivity? Alan Greenspan, Chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, has suggested that the major contribution of Information Technology (IT) has been to reduce the number of worker hours required to produce a nation's output.* In addition, he has suggested that before this period of information availability, most twentieth-century business decisions were hampered by uncertainty about the timely knowledge of customers' needs, inventories, and materials. The remarkable surge in timely information has enabled business to remove large swaths of inventory safety stocks and worker redundancies. The dramatic decline in the lead times for the delivery of capital equipment has made a particularly significant contribution to the favorable economic environment of the past decade. That meant fewer goods and worker hours involved in activities intended only as insurance to sustain output levels. This emphasizes that the essence of information technology is the expansion of knowledge and the reduction in uncertainty.

Why do we suggest that intelligent wireless devices will mean further improvement in productivity over the next decade? The Internet has become the grim reaper of information inefficiency. For the first time, ordinary people have real power over information production and dissemination. As the cost of information drops, the microprocessor in effect gives ordinary people control over information about consumer market production and distribution.

What has restrained the Internet from achieving its full potential has been the limited bandwidth and availability directly to the consumer, inadequate user interfaces, and software that is, at best, unhelpful. Eventually, cheap, fast Internet access will be available to every home and business, unleashing powerful effects. Eventually, the user interface will improve through the use of speech. And, eventually, software will deliver services that are credibly intelligent.

By applying the power of Moore's law to the chips that support the many and varied wireless technologies, wireless will change from an upscale market luxury technology into a necessity for mobile devices. Devices using the Intelligent Wireless Web will offer consumers, as well as businesses, access to products and services any time, anywhere.

Approximately half of today's $28 trillion world economy involves transactions related to office work, including buying and selling transactions, banking applications, insurance forms, government information processing, education forms, and business-to-business transactions.** From a global perspective, this information processing is currently being done mostly by specialized humans and secondarily by machines. And the Internet is only now beginning to touch the vast expanse of office work.

Banking, which typically involves straightforward, standardized transactions, could be one of the first major areas for widespread wireless access. The ubiquitous mobile phone is the new contender in financial services, and it carries with it the potential for very broad access. Unlike earlier experiments with smartcards and the first PC banking services, mobile devices look like a natural channel for consumer financial services. Mobile operators have built networks and technology capable of cheap, reliable, and secure person-to-merchant and person-to-person payments. Wireless telecommunication actually can compete with one of the banker's traditional greatest strengths—control of the payment system. Wireless service providers now have the capability of challenging credit card associations.

How much faster will the growth of intelligent applications over Wireless Web devices improve global productivity in the next decade? No one knows. But the Intelligent Wireless Web holds a vision that may significantly contribute to the information revolution through the use of

  1. A growing number of mobile wireless devices for home and office providing broader access
  2. Improvements to the user interface, including speech
  3. "Nomadic" software from servers provided to our local devices as needed, including complete personal data and preferences
  4. Intelligent software that could improve information transactions and productivity

Statement of the Problem

Although progress is being made in many new technologies that are producing today's Information Age, there is one area that may become particularly influential--#8212;the Intelligent Wireless Web. This area includes wireless mobile devices, speech interfaces, and intelligent software. And as a result, the construction of an Intelligent Wireless Web requires the integratio n of advances in many disparate fields. Today, there is need for clarifying the "Big Picture" of how these many and varied fields of study fit together—where they touch, where they cooperate, and where they conflict.

The Purpose of This Book

The purpose of this book is to provide insight into the "Big Picture" of how we may "build" an Intelligent Wireless Web. The book evaluates the compatibility, integration, and synergy of five merging technology areas that will lead to the Intelligent Wireless Web:

  1. User interface: To transition from the mouse click and keyboard to speech as the primary method of communication between people and devices
  2. Personal Space: To transition from connecting devices by tangled wires to multifunction wireless devices
  3. Networks: To transition from a mostly wired infrastructure to an integrated wired/wireless system of interconnections
  4. Protocols: To transition from the original Internet Protocol (IP) to the new Mobile IP
  5. Web architecture: To transition from dumb and static applications to new applications that are intelligent, dynamic, and constantly improving

This book provides the background for understanding these merging technology areas. It provides an evaluation of the major advantages and disadvantages of individual technologies and the problems that must be overcome. Finally, the book provides a vision for building the Intelligent Wireless Web.

Yogi Berra once said, "Predictions can be tricky, especially when you're talking about the future." And certainly, making projections about competing technologies is more perilous than using hindsight to review history. However, the future of rapidly converging technologies is not so complex and uncertain that a few reasonable "trial solutions" about certain aspects of the Web's further development can't be put forward for examination. Indeed, several large advanced research efforts, such as MIT's $50-million Project Oxygen, demonstrate that concepts incorporating key elements of the Intelligent Wireless Web are being actively pursued.

Hopefully, the vision of technology development and convergence presented inthis book will offer insights into the actual unfolding of the future of the Web. However, we fully acknowledge that there are competing visions for the development of various Web technologies and the actual winners are yet to be determined.

Who Should Read This Book

The primary target audience for this book includes developers, engineers, innovators, research strategists, and IT managers who are looking for the "Big Picture" of how to integrate and deliver intelligent products and services wirelessly through Web services, software applications, and hardware devices.

The breadth and vision of this book offer synergistic perspective to many disciplines. This book should prove valuable to the technologists, innovators, integrators, computer science educators, and technical experts who are already contributing to the construction of the Intelligent Wireless Web in their own areas of expertise, including Intelligent Networks Designers, Internet Protocols Developers, Device Manufacturers, Wireless Communication Engineers, Standards Organizations, Knowledge-Base System Developers, Software Developers, Intelligent Agent Analysts, Speech Recognition and Synthesis Developers, IT Research Managers, and IT Corporate Strategists.

Finally, this book provides a clear "mindset" for intelligent applications in the Wireless Web and is therefore a valuable reference for students of technology and managers requiring broad knowledge of leading technology issues.

The Organization of This Book

This book is organized into three parts. Part I deals with communication from people to devices. Part II discusses interactions from device to device. Part III examines connections from devices to people. Within these three parts, we present the essential wireless communication relationships.

In Part I , we discuss how people communicate with devices. We start, in Chapter 1, by presenting an overview of the Intelligent Wireless Web, how the Web is becoming smarter, and how the five major technology components can come together as a framework for the Intelligent Wireless Web. Then, in Chapter 2, we show how speech recognition and understanding are growing more powerful and soon will be ready to become a central user interface between people and machines, replacing keyboards and mice wherever possible.

In Part II, we discuss how devices communicate with devices. We start, in Chapter 3, by presenting the specifics of your own Personal Space and its communication infrastructure of the wireless personal area network (WPAN). In Chapter 4, we preview the global communication infrastructure of interlacing networks and how wired and wireless networks are merging. Finally, in Chapter 5, we provide the basics of wireless protocols and standards between devices. This demonstrates how the mobile wireless networks and the Web are merging.

In Part III, we discuss how intelligent ways are being developed for communications from devices to people. We start, in Chapter 6, by discussing artificial intelligence, and we develop a thesis of growing intelligence for the Web. In Chapter 7, we explore current Web applications that are considered smart today, such as Enterprise Application Portals. Then we present the transition of Web architecture toward a Semantic Web with a logic layer. In addition, we explore concepts such as Web IQ. Then, in Chapter 8, we present speech synthesis and translation.

We digress in Chapter 9, to develop the economic basis for the rapid progress of an Intelligent Wireless Web. Finally, in Chapter 10, we weave a Big Picture of the likely progress over the next decade in actually "building" the Intelligent Wireless Web.

Within each chapter, the analysis includes the state-of-the-art technology and an evaluation of how that technology may evolve. We consider how intelligent applications and Web-smart devices work together within each particular area. In addition, each chapter provides a projection on how these relationships of the communication cycle will interface through standards that allow for intelligence to grow.

The sidebars within each chapter provide supplemental information of historical, illustrative, or explanatory nature. Additional advanced information is available in the appendices.

Associated Resources

MIT's AI Laboratory hosts Project Oxygen, which is available online at The Semantic Web Organization has developer software resources at

* Alan Greenspan credited technology innovation with propelling the nation's economy into arecord ninth year of expansion (CNNfn, July 11, 2000).
** 2. McInerney, F., and White, S. FutureWealth, Truman Talley Books, 2000.


Reader review(s):

A Descriptive and Organized Read, February 6, 2002
This new book provides an excellent description of current developments in implementing intelligent applications for mobile, wireless systems. More importantly, it suggests a broad and comprehensive vision of the future development of the internet. The organization and style of the book facilitate understanding of an otherwise complex set of topics. I would strongly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in fully understanding the future trends in information technology.

Intelligent Writing for the New Web, January 23, 2002
The wireless web is expected to eclipse the wired Internet and it is difficult to find books that treat the many emerging forms of this technology well. The book is easy to read, and ranges over both the practical and the theoretical in a well balanced and useful manner. With the many connections and devices forming the new wireless web, Peter Alesso and Craig Smith outline and describe the key underpinnings and implications that every technologist and business person should be aware of. This book is useful to business and technology planning. It details the relevant and hard to get information about the emerging wireless technology. With intelligence, it goes further to sensibly describe my favorite parts - the challenges and opportunities of each technology. I recommend it to any senior technology professional - aspiring or already practicing.

Needs more details, June 20, 2003
This book outlines a proposal to integrate artificial intelligence and wireless technology into the World Wide Web in order to make it more powerful and more tuned to the real needs of the user. It is an interesting proposal, but omits discussion of some important issues. The book is targeted to an audience of developers, engineers, researchers, and IT managers who need to understand how to deliver, via wireless technology, intelligent processes and services.

Chapter 1 is an overview of the five areas that the authors feel are needed to form the Intelligent Wireless Web. All of these are viable and desired from a technical standpoint. However, from a human factors standpoint, one of them is somewhat troubling, namely the need for having voice activation for the user interface. This could be extremely annoying if one is working in the now popular cubicle environments, due to the noise level generated from user's speech. Privacy issues could arise too, since voice patterns are easily recorded. Making the transition from dumb/static Web applications to intelligent/dynamic ones is sorely needed, but voice activation/recognition should be the problem of those who are working in other areas of machine intelligence, such as robotics. Of course, if work environments evolve into more private scenarios, the author's proposals for voice activation could become viable.

Chapters 2 and 8 concern speech recognition. I did not read these chapters so their review will be omitted.

In chapter 3, the authors discuss how wireless technology could be integrated into peronal area networks (WPANs). The authors here exhibit a keen awareness both of the technology and the human factors involved in creating what they call a "Personal Space". Home automation will be slow-going perhaps at first, due to legacy systems now in place, but it is highly desirable from the standpoint of energy conservation and home security. To prevent government and other forms of malicious intrusion, wireless security will have to be top priority before the Intelligent Wireless Web is implemented.

Chapter 4 is an overview of the basics behind both wired and wireless networks, with the goal of merging them effectively. The authors are clearly advocating the use of LMDS for high-speed wireless access. However, they do not discuss any performance studies to give more weight to their arguments for LMDS. "Project Oxygen" is discussed as an approach to accomodate mobile and stationary devices, and for moving away from TCP as a congestion manager, but the discussion is too brief to be helpful.

In chapter 5, the authors discuss the status of mobile wireless, IP version 6, and Mobile IP. The authors are a little more quantitative in this chapter, mentioning for example the inability of TDMA to deal with bursty data flows, but no details are given. A fairly detailed overview of "third-generation" mobile wireless technologies is given however. Performance issues are not discussed though, and it would have been interesting if the authors would have included a discussion of MANET.

Chapter 6 is a general overview of artificial intelligence and how it might be applied to Web protocols. As in all discussions on AI, controversies and disagreements will arise in the mind of the reader, but the authors are fair in representing the main ideas, considering the relatively short length of the chapter. The discussion on distributed AI is the most relevant for the book.

In chapter 7 the authors continue the discussion on AI with the goal of seeing to what extent it can be incorporated into the Web. I was glad to see a discussion of the Cyc application in this chapter, even though it was very short. From the author's standpoint the Web currently does not really express intelligence, since it does not adapt, a necessary requirement for learning. A "learning algorithm" is defined as a process that extracts data from a database to serve as its input, and then performs a set of operations on the input, giving finally an output that represents learning. The authors feel that the Semantic Web holds much promise for building an intelligent Web, and outline several tools, such as XML and RDF, that assist in the construction of the Semantic Web. Particularly interesting is the discussion of the need for self-organization in order for the Web to be considered intelligent. The property of self-organization will also be the most problematic to implement, due to the extreme distrust that some now feel against software that has not been validated by a human. This is especially the case for those having to deal with medical records and information on human health.

So why even attempt to build the Intelligent Wireless Web? The authors attempt to answer this question in Chapter 9. They conclude, based on Moore's law, that wireless chip technology will allow cellular carriers to build networks for less than $100 per customer. They never however answer how much intelligent applications over the wireless Web will improve productivity. This can be accomplished to a large degree with simulation and mathematical modeling, but the authors do not do so.

Chapter 10 is an overview of the actual progress in developing the Intelligent Wireless Web. The challenges are considerable, not only from a technical standpoint in the creation of intelligent applications, but also because of legacy issues. The authors are aware of this and give a network schematic outlining an integrated wired/wireless network. Their concept of an Intelligent Wireless Web is a good one, but their justification for it, especially for the use of speech recognition, is somewhat weak. They need to perform a lot more modeling studies to see just how these smart applications are going to behave on the Web.

Technical Reviewer, May 29, 2002
As a technical reviewer of this book, I found it to be incredibly complete and technically accurate. This is a very comprehensive introductory guide to a wide variety of related topics and weaves them together in an excellent framework. Useful for the novice and practitioners who may not be familiar with all the topics covered. No matter what your area of expertise, you will find valuable new information in these pages, directly relevant to important new trends, and truly ahead of the curve-- a difficult task for a technical book.

Great Reference, May 13, 2002
I can only second what others have said. This is a great book to give you a big picture of the wireless landscape and offers some good insights into possible futures. If there's an acronym related to wireless that you didn't know rest assured you'll find it here...

What lies ahead in data for wireless data transmission, February 6, 2002
This very well organized overview of information on current and future wireless communication should be must reading for anyone involved with data transmission and storage technology. It provides a particularly fascinating glimpse of what may lie in store for the future.

ESSENTIAL reading for anyone in the technology business, February 2, 2002
A highly inspirational "GESTALT" view of the mobile internet of the future, a MUST READ for anyone in the 3G Wireless business

A Must-Read!, January 15, 2002
If you want to glimpse the power of our technological future, this is the book for you! Writing for the informed layman but including details that will interest even the most devoted cognoscenti, Alesso and Smith anticipate developments in the vanguard technologies of connectivity and computing and weave them into a compelling vision of almost effortless intelligence, available for work, study and pleasure. Not science fiction but technically correct futurism, The Intelligent Wireless Web is a must-read for everyone interested in the dazzling potential of the internet and related technologies.

A Sound Comprehensive Review, December 30, 2001
The Intelligent Wireless Web provides a comprehensive overview of the technologies that will combine to bring the wireless web to pervasive use. The book provides an explanation of the technology fundamentals, summarizing and explaining the jargon. A snapshot is provided of today's technology and enough information is provided that one can understand possible technology evolution over the next 5-10 years. For an professional working in this field, the book provides an overview of all aspects of the subject. For an investor, the book provides insights to technologies and companies that will be key players as the wireless web evolves. The book provides a wonderful who, what, where, when, why, and how explanation.

The layout includes graphics to summarize points made in the text and text boxes that provide background information on concepts that are addressed in the text. Many of the text boxes had information that I was aware of, but the format allowed me to easily skip this information and return to the text.

Exploring Future Technology, December 28, 2001
I greatly enjoyed reading this book with its comfortable dialog and interesting historical asides. The Intelligent Wireless Web covers a wide variety of overlapping topics that makes for an exciting glimpse into a possible future. It makes a strong case for its central theme: evolving ubiquitous computing centralized upon mobile wireless communications, speech recognition and AI. It offers some new proactive avenues of thought. While I may not agree with all the projections, the different aspects of alternative controversial technologies in competition were well examined.

The book provided some important technology comparsions, including listing the necessary steps for a particular technology to succeed and its current developmental status. It offered a list of provocative questions that it intended to explore early in the book and I think the authors were, for the most part, successful. In addition, I found the concluding
strategic planning guideline interesting.

I highly recommend this book.

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