Frank Kelly

Frank Kelly
Frank Kelly
Fields of study
IEEE Alexander Graham bell Medal


Professor of Mathematics of Systems at the University of Cambridge in England, Dr. Frank Kelly's critical insight into the performance and behavior of telecommunications networks and his application of the economic theory of pricing to congestion control and fair resource allocation have reshaped how researchers study future directions for the Internet. In the 1980s, Dr. Kelly and his colleagues at Cambridge and at BT Laboratories, in Martlesham, England, developed Dynamic Alternative Routing (DAR), later deployed in the British Telecom network.

Dr. Kelly’s landmark work on rate control during the 1990s developed the equations responsible for governing traffic on the Internet and transformed the field. He was one of the first to provide economic insights on control problems in telecommunication networks, leading to his development of the “proportional fairness” concept. This spurred new research on rate control for the Internet and spawned worldwide activity on analysis of control schemes and congestion pricing, demonstrating how rate control of the Internet could be placed in a rigorous mathematical framework. Proportional fairness is now a central concept in analyzing resource allocation in networks. Dr. Kelly’s work opened the way for model-based development of the Traffic Control Protocol (TCP), with practically all forms of congestion control today incorporating Dr. Kelly’s equations. Key to the success of DAR was the ability to determine the alternate paths online and in real time with information based on where and when the call was initiated. DAR’s success led to implementation in the British Telecom network and in the United States and Japan.

DAR is a decentralized adaptive call-routing strategy that relies solely on local information and is simple to both implement and manage. The DAR concept and analysis have influenced the design of reliable call-routing strategies around the world.

Along with his academic responsibilities, Dr. Kelly is chief scientific advisor to the British Department of Transport. He has served on the Scientific Board of Hewlett-Packard's Basic Research Institute in Mathematical Sciences and the Conseil Scientifique of France Telecom.

Kelly was the recipient of the 2015 IEEE Alexander Graham bell Medal.