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A multi-threshold online smoothing technique for variable rate multimedia streams


Variable bit rate (VBR) compression for media streams allocates more bits to complex scenes and fewer bits to simple scenes. This results in a higher and more uniform visual and aural quality. The disadvantage of the VBR technique is that it results in bursty network traffic and uneven resource utilization when streaming media. In this study we propose an online media transmission smoothing technique that requires no a priori knowledge of the actual bit rate. It utilizes multi-level buffer thresholds at the client side that trigger feedback information sent to the server. This technique can be applied to both live captured streams and stored streams without requiring any server side pre-processing. We have implemented this scheme in our continuous media server and verified its operation across real world LAN and WAN connections. The results show smoother transmission schedules than any other previously proposed online technique.

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Correspondence to Roger Zimmermann.

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This research has been funded in part by NSF grants EEC-9529152 (IMSC ERC), and IIS-0082826, DARPA and USAF under agreement nr. F30602-99-1-0524, and unrestricted cash/equipment gifts from NCR, IBM, Intel and SUN.

Roger Zimmermann is currently a Research Assistant Professor with the Computer Science Department and a Research Area Director with the Integrated Media Systems Center (IMSC) at the University of Southern California. His research activities focus on streaming media architectures, peer-to-peer systems, immersive environments, and multimodal databases. He has made significant contributions in the areas of interactive and high quality video streaming, collaborative large-scale group communications, and mobile location-based services. Dr. Zimmermann has co-authored a book, a patent and more than seventy conference publications, journal articles and book chapters in the areas of multimedia and databases. He was the co-chair of the ACM NRBC 2004 workshop, the Open Source Software Competition of the ACM Multimedia 2004 conference, the short paper program systems track of ACM Multimedia 2005 and will be the proceedings chair of ACM Multimedia 2006. He is on the editorial board of SIGMOD DiSC, the ACM Computers in Entertainment magazine and the International Journal of Multimedia Tools and Applications. He has served on many conference program committees such as ACM Multimedia, SPIE MMCN and IEEE ICME.

Cyrus Shahabi is currently an Associate Professor and the Director of the Information Laboratory (InfoLAB) at the Computer Science Department and also a Research Area Director at the NSF's Integrated Media Systems Center (IMSC) at the University of Southern California. He received his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Computer Science from the University of Southern California in May 1993 and August 1996, respectively. His B.S. degree is in Computer Engineering from Sharif University of Technology, Iran. He has two books and more than hundred articles, book chapters, and conference papers in the areas of databases and multimedia. Dr. Shahabi's current research interests include Peer-to-Peer Systems, Streaming Architectures, Geospatial Data Integration and Multidimensional Data Analysis. He is currently an associate editor of the IEEE Transactions on Parallel and Distributed Systems (TPDS) and on the editorial board of ACM Computers in Entertainment magazine. He is also the program committee chair of ICDE NetDB 2005 and ACM GIS 2005. He serves on many conference program committees such as IEEE ICDE 2006, ACM CIKM 2005, SSTD 2005 and ACM SIGMOD 2004. Dr. Shahabi is the recipient of the 2002 National Science Foundation CAREER Award and 2003 Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). In 2001, he also received an award from the Okawa Foundations.

Kun Fu is currently a Ph.D candidate in computer science from the University of Southern California. He did research at the Data Communication Technology Research Institute and National Data Communication Engineering Center in China prior to coming to the United States and is currently working on large scale data stream recording architectures at the NSF's Integrated Media System Center (IMSC) and Data Management Research Laboratory (DMRL) at the Computer Science Department at USC. He received an MS in engineering science from the University of Toledo. He is a member of the IEEE. His research interests are in the area of scalable streaming architectures, distributed real-time systems, and multimedia computing and networking.

Mehrdad Jahangiri was born in Tehran, Iran. He received the B.S. degree in Civil Engineering from University of Tehran at Tehran, in 1999. He is currently working towards the Ph.D. degree in Computer Science at the University of Southern California. He is currently a research assistant working on multidimensional data analysis at Integrated Media Systems Center (IMSC)—Information Laboratory (InfoLAB) at the Computer Science Department of the University of Southern California.

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Zimmermann, R., Shahabi, C., Fu, K. et al. A multi-threshold online smoothing technique for variable rate multimedia streams. Multimed Tools Appl 28, 23–49 (2006).

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  • Continuous media delivery
  • Continuous media servers
  • Smoothing
  • Video on demand