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International Women's Day


Renata Cruz Teixeira: a networking woman...

Born in Brazil around 40 years ago, Renata Cruz Teixeira got into networks very early on...Today, with the Muse team, she is trying hard to make them disappear in order to improve user experience on the Internet...

“In 1993, when I began my degree in computer science at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, the Internet was still quite an unfriendly tool and generally reserved for the academic community", Renata Cruz Teixeira recalls. However, the range of possibilities opened up by the Web was sufficiently attractive for the student to decide to explore it. After a master's in electrical engineering, she left her home country to go to the University of California in San Diego. The challenge: a PhD in computer science, "during which I did several internships at AT&T, dedicated to the issue of Internet routing.”

Different working cultures

In 2005, once her PhD was in the bag, came another change of scene. Next stop Paris, where she settled with her French husband, firstly for a post-doc year then she was appointed researcher at LIP6, a research laboratory under the supervision of Pierre and Marie Curie University (UPMC) and the CNRS. Leaving San Diego for the Île-de-France obviously meant losing a few degrees, but it was not the temperature difference that surprised Renata the most. “In the United States I was very connected and I evolved in a very facilitating working environment. I really had the impression of being where things were happening! When I arrived here, I found the work dynamics very different, with student networking that was less natural - as they tend to 'stick' with other French people - and a strong bureaucratic culture which, to put it politely, I frankly wasn't used to...”

Bye bye network bugs?

Eight years later, Renata Cruz Teixeira - now French-Brazilian and mother of a little boy - joined Inria to create the Muse team ('Measuring networks for enhancing user experience’). “Our aim is to improve user experience on the Internet by allowing everyone - even the less technically-minded - to say goodbye to the frustrations (untimely failures or endless downloads) you can experience on a daily basis when you surf on the Web.” The question is how...”The first stage consists in developing new techniques to assess user experience depending on the network's performance. For the time being, our approach is still dependent on real users, who we survey in order to find out about their experience, but we are also working on inference techniques that would make it possible to model customer perception using only the network's operating data. Ultimately, the challenge is to go from a diagnosis to a solution by developing interfaces enabling users to easily solve their problem or, even better, that would lead the systems to repair themselves.” A busy programme then, for the next few years, but one that does not seem to frighten this workaholic, “who still takes advantage of the life-work balance that is so dear to the French”, she smiles. “I like to travel, discover new cultures, new languages, swim, practise yoga and, of course, make the most of my son!”

A man's world?

Over the last few years, Renata Cruz Teixeira has also got involved in the professional associative world: today she is vice-chair of ACM (Association for Computing Machinery) and involved in N2Women (Networking Networking Women), a community of female researchers in the field of communications and networks. “When I arrived at university, we were three girls out of 60 students. Today, things have changed, but even if there are three women in our team out of its eight members, the world of networks is still rather masculine...we still need to tackle some prejudices!”

#50ansInria “In 2067, I would like to have helped to make the Internet 'disappear'.”

“Fifty years ago the first conference dedicated to Arpanet, the Internet's predecessor, took place. In 50 years' time, I would like to have helped to make the Internet 'disappear'. Of course, this does not mean no longer using the Web, but making all of the technology that still inconveniences users too much disappear. When I press on a switch I don't need to know how a light bulb works...I would like everyone to be able to say the same when they use the Internet, as Mark Weiser - the father of ubiquitous computing and calm computing - advocated. At present, humans must adapt to technology - it's about time the roles were reversed!”

Keywords: Renata Cruz Teixeira Network #50yearInria Woman Inria de Paris