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Today's wireless networks are characterized by a fixed spectrum assignment policy. However, a large portion of the assigned spectrum is used sporadically and geographical variations in the utilization of assigned spectrum ranges from 15% to 85% with a high variance in time. The limited available spectrum and the inefficiency in the spectrum usage necessitate a new communication paradigm to exploit the existing wireless spectrum opportunistically. This new networking paradigm is referred to as cognitive radio networks. In this talk, the novel functionalities and current research challenges of the cognitive radio networks are explained in detail. More specifically, an overview of the cognitive radio technology is provided and the network architecture is introduced. Moreover, the cognitive network functions such as spectrum management, spectrum mobility and spectrum sharing are explained in detail. The influence of these functions on the performance of the upper layer protocols such as routing and transport are investigated. Moreover, the network management, operation and maintenance problems are highlighted and open research issues in these areas are also outlined.