This talk introduces a "differential" approach to information theory. In contrast to the more traditional "elemental" approach, in which we work to understand communication networks by studying the behavior of their elements in isolation, the differential approach works to understand the impact components can have on the larger networks in which they are employed. Results achieved through this differential viewpoint highlight some startling facts about network communications -- including both opportunities where even very small changes to a communication network can have a big impact on network performance and vulnerabilities where small failures can cause big harm.
Michelle Effros is the George Van Osdol Professor of Electrical Engineering at the California Institute of Technology. Her research interests are primarily in the area of information theory for communication networks -- with particular interest in developing tools for understanding large networks traditionally considered impenetrable to information theoretic techniques. Prof. Effros has received a number of awards and fellowships including the NSF CAREER Award, the Charles Lee Powell Foundation Award, the Richard Feynman-Hughes Fellowship, an Okawa Research Grant, a citation by Technology Review as one of the world's top young innovators, and a Communication and Information Theory Society Joint Paper Award. She is a fellow of IEEE and a member of Tau Beta Pi, Phi Beta Kappa, and Sigma Xi. She served as President of the IEEE Information Theory Society in 2015 and has served on a large number of publications committees, technical program committees, and advisory b