Evolutionary Autonomous Networks





autonomous network, intent, principles, architecture, evolution, online experimentation


The communication networks of today can greatly benefit from autonomous operation and adaptation, not only due to the implicit cost savings, but also because autonomy will enable functionalities that are infeasible today. Across industry, academia and standardisation bodies there has been an increased interest in achieving the autonomous goal, but a path on how to attain this goal is still unclear.

In this paper we present our vision for the future of autonomous networking. We introduce the concepts and technological means to achieve autonomy and propose an architecture which emerges directly through the application of these concepts, highlighting opportunities and challenges for standardisation. We argue that only a holistic architecture based on hierarchies of hybrid learning, functional composition, and online experimental evaluation is expressive and capable enough to realise true autonomy within communication networks.


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Author Biographies

Paul Harvey, Rakuten Mobile Innovation Studio, Japan

Paul Harvey received his doctorate in Computing Science from the University of Glasgow focusing on heterogeneous adaptive systems. He possesses extensive experience in academia, including multiple international collaborations and positions, and is currently bridging academic and industrial research. He is one of the original founders of the Autonomous Networks Research & Innovation Lab in Rakuten Mobile Japan and is passionate about pursing collaborative and open research.

Alexandru Tatar, Rakuten Mobile Innovation Studio, Japan

Alexandru Tatar is a researcher at Rakuten. He received an Engineering Degree from Polytechnic University of Bucharest and a Ph.D. from UPMC Sorbonne University, France. His work focuses on autonomous networks and on studying user behaviour in e-commerce.

Pierre Imai, Rakuten Mobile Innovation Studio, Japan

Pierre Imai is Head of the Research & Innovation Department at Rakuten Mobile and has been working for the Rakuten Institute of Technology as Principal Scientist since 2016. His research and work experience includes the fields of networking & telecommunications, self-optimizing & autonomous systems, internet-scale distributed systems, artificial intelligence & machine learning, and robotics. Before joining Rakuten, he was improving the content distribution and active network monitoring systems down to network protocol level at Google, working on future internet and telecommunications research at NEC Labs Europe, and participated in multiple EU and national research projects such as ANA and Onelab. He is especially interested in building systems that can learn and improve themselves, for example, a network stack that autonomously re-composes and re-configures itself to reach close-to-optimal performance based on the current state of the network and traffic – as he did for his PhD, on a research grant from the Swiss National Fund.

Leon Wong, Rakuten Mobile Innovation Studio, Japan

Leon Wong is the Industry Research Collaboration Lead for Rakuten Mobile Autonomous Networking Research & Innovation Lab. He has over 15 years experience in Telecommunications and IT, as a Subject Matter Expert in OSS, Solution Architect and Lead Engineer for international projects. Prior to joining Rakuten Mobile, he was responsible for building GPU High Performance Computing clusters for Rakuten Technology Division.

Laurent Bringuier, Rakuten Mobile Innovation Studio, Japan

Laurent Bringuier graduated from Paris-Sud University with a maîtrise degree in electrical and computer engineering. Laurent has over 20 years experience in the telecommunication industry working in a range of companies from small start-up operators to large international vendors. In that time, he gained experience as a network engineer, OSS IT architect, and OSS project manager on network and infrastructure resource management. He transitioned to R&D, working in Rakuten Institute of Technology as a research project manager on various applied machine learning projects from inception to conclusion. Now, Laurent is one of the original members of the Autonomous Networks Research & Innovation Dept in Rakuten Mobile Japan. Here he is leveraging his pragmatic telco knowledge and experience in applied research management to contribute to the creation of an autonomous network.


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How to Cite

Harvey, P., Tatar, A., Imai, P., Wong, L., & Bringuier, L. . (2021). Evolutionary Autonomous Networks. Journal of ICT Standardization, 9(2), 201–228. https://doi.org/10.13052/jicts2245-800X.927



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