Faculty Recruiting Support CICS

Sitaraman Receives Amazon Research Award for Adaptive Bitrate Video Streaming Research

Ramesh Sitaraman reclining at a desk
Ramesh Sitaraman

Distinguished Professor Ramesh Sitaraman of the Manning College of Information and Computer Sciences (CICS) at UMass Amherst is a recipient of a 2022 Amazon Research Award (ARA), which will fund his research on adaptive bitrate algorithms (ABR) for video streaming.

His winning project, “Design and Evaluation of ABR Algorithms for High-Performance Video Delivery,” is a collaboration with CICS Assistant Professor Mohammad Hajiesmaili, an expert in online optimization. The project will tackle new challenges for ABR algorithms that maximize the quality of experience of the video user by dynamically adapting the video stream to match the variations in internet connectivity.

For instance, if a user is playing a video on a mobile device and walks through an area where network connectivity is poor, the ABR algorithm would use sophisticated techniques to quickly decrease the video quality to prevent the video player from freezing. 

The ABR algorithm previously developed by Sitaraman’s team, BOLA (Buffer Occupancy-based Lyapunov Algorithm), is the current state of the art and is now part of the MPEG-DASH reference video player standard that enables media streaming on the internet. BOLA and its variants are widely used in the field for commercial video streaming by major video providers such as Orange, BBC, CBS, and Amazon Prime Video. 

"Amazon Prime Video leverages several ideas from the BOLA algorithm to stream high-quality live and on-demand video streams to hundreds of millions of users daily. We look forward to supporting Prof. Sitaraman’s research to create next-generation ABR algorithms that further enhance the quality and latency of video streams," said Padu Padmanabhan, senior manager at Amazon Prime Video.

Together with Hajiesmaili, Sitaraman aims to tackle the challenge of low-latency livestreaming. “Imagine you are watching a livestream of the Super Bowl, and there is the typical lag of twenty seconds between the time that a touchdown is scored and the time you see it on your device,” Sitaraman explains. “Meanwhile, your neighbors who are following the game on the air, on radio, or on social media are cheering. You know something’s happened but have no idea what’s going on. We can solve this perpetual issue with low-latency livestreaming that can deliver a live event to a large audience with a lag of only a few seconds.”

A fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and IEEE, Sitaraman is known for his pioneering work in content delivery networks and edge computing services that currently deliver much of the world’s web content, streaming videos, and edge applications. He is a recipient of the inaugural ACM SIGCOMM Networking Systems Award for his work on the Akamai CDN, an Excellence in DASH Award for his work on ABR algorithms, and a UMass Amherst Distinguished Teaching Award. Sitaraman is also founding director of the CICS informatics program, and currently directs the Laboratory for Internet-Scale Distributed Systems. He holds a doctorate in computer science from Princeton University.