Dr. Mills is currently researching global behavior in distributed systems, and is working to develop a NIST program in complex systems. Previously, Dr. Mills developed, proposed, and pursued research projects in active networks, service-discovery systems, fault-tolerant networks and large-scale communications networks. Dr. Mills defined and led a seminal program of research to discover a method to express processing (CPU-time) requirements for mobile code in a form that can be meaningfully interpreted among heterogeneous nodes in an active network. As a part of this research program, Dr. Mills advised student Virginie Galtier, who obtained her Ph.D. in April 2002 from Université Henri Poincaré Nancy I based on a thesis: Éléments de gestion des ressources de calcul dans les réseaux actifs hétérogènes. His past work also includes developing a technical basis on which to compare and contrast emerging, commercial service-discovery protocols. As part of this research, Dr. Mills advised (Twente University) PhD student Vasughi Sundramoorthy, whose thesis is entitled At Home In Service Discovery. Dr. Mills has also proposed and pursued research to develop self-adaptive algorithms for optimal performance in fault-tolerant networks. In collaboration with Jian Yuan, associate professor in the department of electronic engineering at Tsinghua University, Dr. Mills also investigated measurement and modeling approaches for large-scale communications networks. During various research activities, Dr. Mills has worked with a number of undergraduate students, including Ceryen Tan (MIT), Edward Schwartz (CMU), Mackenzie Britton (SMU), Kevin Bowers (RPI), Aditya Koowal (Stanford), Christopher Kelley (Williams), Brittany Devine (Centre College) and Joseph Chenhensa (UC Davis). For ten years (1996-2006), Dr. Mills served on the adjunct faculty at George Mason University.
Dr. Mills previously directed a division aiming to provide the networking industry with the best in test and measurement technology. The division consisted of approximately 60 researchers. Dr. Mills led the formulation of research objectives, managed the allocation of resources (about $7.5 million annually), evaluated the progress of research projects, and represented the division before various customers, sponsors, collaborators, and advisers. A review panel from the National Academy of Sciences reported that the focus and merit of the projects in the division improved in each of the three years under the leadership of Dr. Mills. In addition to running the division, Dr. Mills pursued his own research interests, which focused on networking software for smart spaces and pervasive computing, on methods to improve the design, testing and evaluation of distributed systems, and on innovative techniques to measure the effectiveness of networking protocols.
At DARPA, Dr. Mills defined and managed a research program to advance the state of technology available to support distributed collaboration and visualization. This program, beginning from existing technologies for real-time conferencing, multi-user domains, and virtual environments, aimed to provide users, separated in time and space, with new techniques to collaborate effectively through computers and networks. While at DARPA, Dr. Mills also managed a program to enable mobile information systems to become first class citizens in the global Internet. The program achieved advances in four areas: (1) untethered nodes that transmit at 10 Mbps over a kilometer, using modest power, while being packaged in modular handheld units, (2) networks that adapt to changing transmission conditions, automatically reconfiguring as needed, (3) multihop networks that can route data across wireless hops and wired hops in an integrated fashion, and (4) applications that can adapt to varying connection quality and to disconnection from the network.
As a doctoral student, Mills conducted research concerning methods to automate the generation of concurrent designs for real-time software, producing a doctoral thesis, Automated Generation Of Concurrent Designs For Real-Time Software, that specifies a knowledge-based approach to design generation.
Prior to joining NIST, Dr. Mills worked in industry and the military. In industry, he managed system programmers responsible for development of communications performance measurement products, designed and implemented system software, communication protocols, and simulation models. In the military, he directed functional and performance testing for automated air-traffic control systems.