Document Type


Date of Degree

Summer 2017

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Computer Science

First Advisor

Octav Chipara


Mobile sensing applications (MSAs) are an emerging class of applications that process continuous sensor data streams to make time-sensitive inferences. Representative application domains range from environmental monitoring, context-aware services to recognition of physical activities and social interactions. Example applications involve city air quality assessment, indoor localization, pedometer and speaker identification. The common application workflow is to read data streams from the sensors (e.g, accelerometers, microphone, GPS), extract statistical features, and then present the inferred high-level events to the user. MSAs in the healthcare domain especially draw a significant amount of attention in recent years because sensor-based data collection and assessment offer finer-granularity, timeliness, and higher accuracy in greater quantity than traditional, labor-intensive, data gathering mechanisms in use today, e.g., surveys methods. The higher fidelity and accuracy of the collected data expose new research opportunities, improve the reliability and accuracy of medical decisions, and empower users to manage personal health more effectively.

Nonetheless, a critical challenge to practical deployment of MSAs in real-world is to effectively manage limited resources of mobile platforms to meet stringent quality of service (QoS) requirements in terms of processing throughput and delay while ensuring long term robustness. To address the challenge, we model MSAs in dataflows as a graph of processing elements that are connected by communication channels. The processing elements may execute in parallel as long as they have sufficient data to process. A key feature of the dataflow model is that it explicitly capture parallelism and data dependencies between processing elements. Based on the graph composition, we first proposed CSense, a stream-processing toolkit for robust and high-rate MSAs. In this work, CSense provide a simple language for developers to describe their sensing flow without the need to deal with system intricacy, such as memory allocation, concurrency control and power management. The results show up to 19X performance difference may be achieved automatically compared with a baseline using the default runtime concurrency and memory management.

Following this direction, we saw the opportunities that MSAs can be significantly improved from the perspective of memory performance and energy efficiency in view of the iterative execution. Therefore, we next focus on optimizing the runtime memory management through compile time analysis. The contribution is a stream compiler that captures the whole program memory behavior to generate an efficient memory layout for runtime access. Experiments show that our memory optimizations reduce memory footprint by as much as 96% while matching or improving the performance of the StreamIt compiler with cache optimizations enabled.

On the other hand, while there is a significant body of work that has focused on optimizing the throughput or latency of processing sensor streams, little to no attention has been given to energy efficiency. We proposed an accurate offline energy prediction model for MSAs that leverages the pipeline structure and iterative execution nature to search for the most energy saving batching configuration w.r.t. a deadline constraint. The developers are expected to visualize the energy delay trade-off in the parameter space without runtime profiling. The evaluation shows the worst-case prediction errors are about 7% and 15% for energy and latency respectively despite variable application workloads.


energy efficiency, memory management, mobile sensing applications, power management, stream processing, workload shaping


xiii, 127 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 121-127).


Copyright © 2017 Farley Lai