Lalitha Sankar

Lalitha Sankar

Assistant Professor
Department of Electrical, Computer, and Energy Engineering,
Arizona State University
ERC 585,
Tempe, AZ 85287,
Phone: 480-965-4953
Email: lalithasankar at asu dot edu

Bio  |  Research  |  Teaching |  Publications and Patents |  Collaborators


Lalitha Sankar is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Electrical, Computer, and Energy Engineering at Arizona State University. She joined in Fall 2013. Prior to that she was a Research Scholar in the Department of Electrical Engineering at Princeton University working with Prof. H. Vincent Poor. She was also a Science and Technology Teaching and Research Fellow supported by the Council on Science and Technology at Princeton University. She graduated with a Ph.D from  Rutgers University, where she worked with Prof. Narayan Mandayam while collaborating with Prof. Gerhard Kramer (then at Bell Labs). Prior to that, Dr. Sankar was a Senior Member of Technical Staff at AT&T Shannon Labs, Florham Park, NJ, where she worked on design, development, and prototyping of next-generation wired and wireless systems such as multi-band software radios and DSL modems. This was preceded by a year developing signal processing algorithms for the first digital camera prototype developed at Polaroid Corporation Engineering R&D in Cambridge, MA. Lalitha has a Masters from the Department of Electrical Engineering at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and a bachelor's degree in Engineering Physics is from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, India.

Lalitha Sankar received the best paper award from the IEEE Globecom 2011 for her paper on side-information privacy with R. Tandon
and H. V. Poor. For her doctoral work, she received the 2007-2008 Electrical Engineering Academic Achievement Award from Rutgers University.

Research Interests

My research interests include:
Recently my work has focused on developing an information-theoretic framework to study the utility (benefit) and privacy (of individual information) in databases. I was awarded a three year NSF grant for this work along with Prof. H. Vincent Poor of Princeton University (NSF CCF 1016671). I have also extended the framework developed in this work to study distributed estimation with privacy constraints (competitive privacy) in the smart grid and privacy of streaming data from smart (electric/water/gas) meters and mobile patient telemetry data. The modeling of these problems has led to new research topics in source coding with and without privacy constraints and new models for streaming time-series data.

My interests also include theoretical performance limits for a variety of communication problems. Specifically I have studied the problem of optimal resource allocation in multi-terminal relay and interference networks, information-theoretic security of wireless networks, capacity-achieving communication schemes for relay networks, and applying cooperative game theory to determine the conditions under which interfering wireless users are likely to cooperate. 


Spring 2013: 
EEE598: Cyber-Security and Privacy in the Smart Grid
Starting Spring 2013, I teach a new course titled Cyber-Security and Privacy in the Smart Grid.

Prior Teaching:
One of my responsibilities as a Princeton CST Fellow was to teach an undergraduate course every year, preferably to non-science majors. I  introduced and taught a new course under the umbrella of the Princeton Freshman Seminar Series with the aim of introducing the fundamental ideas of entropy, compression, and coding, that were developed by Claude Shannon and are the heart of the information revolution, to freshmen.

In Spring 2008, I introduced the Freshman Seminar Course FRS174 titled 'The Fundamental Ideas of the Information Revolution: Insights into Technology, Language, and Biology'. I offered it again in Spring 2009. Here is an article published in the Information Theory newsletter, September 2008, describing my first attempt at teaching the course. Here is a detailed description of the course and a list of books and papers I have used.

For the third and final time, in fall 2010, I taught the Richard L. Smith Freshman Seminar FRS173 on 'The Fundamental Ideas of the Information Revolution: Insights into Technology, Language, and Biology'. Our guest lecturers for the term included Professors Chris Rose of WINLAB, Rutgers, Michael Berry of Princeton Neuroscience Institute and Molecular Biology, and Elza Erkip of Polytechnic Institute of NYU and they introduced the students to ¡®How extra-terrestrials will communicate with us¡¯, ¡®Information theory in the brain¡¯, and ¡®Information theory and gambling¡¯, respectively.
Here are two publications that developed organically as final term papers:
Twitter vs. Printed English: An Information-theoretic Comparison, and Freqency of Occurence and Information Entropy of American Sign Language.

Publications and Patents/Research Projects 

Here is a list of my publications and patents.  Alternately, my publications sorted by research projects can be found here


A list of  my paper and proposal collaborators: