Paul M. Aoki

research scientist

Research overview

Technology and International Development

As a software engineer at Google, I worked with the Access Strategy & Operations team (originally part of on sustainable solutions to access problems in developing regions. Examples of the team’s projects (in collaboration with many other teams at Google) included pilots of mobile data tools (SmartBrowse) in Ghana and TVWS in South Africa. The StratOps team developed plans for network deployments (access strategy) and helped execute those that move forward (operations). These ranged from the fairly conventional metro fiber backhaul in Uganda and Ghana, urban Wi-Fi networks in India, satellite-fed CDN in Southeast Asia) to the extremely risky. We had to model everything from orbital patterns, wireless link budgets and network traffic up to local consumer economics.

As a research scientist at Intel, I worked on TIER, a project in which Intel collaborated with U.C. Berkeley on the design of appropriate technology for emerging regions. Various TIER sub-projects had connections with Intel’s former Emerging Markets Platforms Group (EMPG). My published research was based on fieldwork in Ghana and Kenya and a field visit to Chile.

Human-Computer Interaction and Computer-Supported Cooperative Work

My work in HCI has been highly interdisciplinary, mostly sitting in the intersection of mobile computing and human interaction.

I still participate in a project on mobile participatory sensing called Common Sense. The team at Intel Research explored some technical issues in sensing environmental air quality using mobile phones, but the key problem of interest for us as HCI researchers has been to work with partners such as the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project (WOEIP to understand how and why people become engaged in citizen science and environmental activism. (Note that environmental degradation is a key concern in emerging regions.)

I collaborated for many years with PARC researchers in the sociological discipline of conversation analysis; their detailed understanding of human conversational structure have helped us understand how (technologically) minor differences in a system can have dramatic effects on interaction.

All of this work on interaction lead to a renewed interest in wide-area collaborative systems. I spent a lot of my time at sea sitting in front of networked tactical command-and-control consoles.

Finally, I have some background in visualization: information display technology, information visualization techniques and visualization system architectures. This came through working with members of the Tioga DataSplash database visualization project at Berkeley.

Data Management

As part of TIER, I had the experience of architecting, building and deploying an asynchronous data replication system for use in a telemedicine system in Ghana (2007-2008).

I consulted (2002-2003) for the PARC security group in a project on privacy preservation in distributed repositories of personal data.

The Harland project at PARC (1999-2000) explored the programming affordances of data modelling constructs that lie between the semistructured and (dynamic) object-oriented data models. Another consideration is how such constructs can be supported efficiently. Harland was an outgrowth of the Placeless Documents project on property-based data stores.

At Berkeley, I worked for Mike Stonebraker in the database research group on a variety of topics: