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Distributed Systems

Almost every computing system nowadays is distributed, ranging from multi-core laptops to Internet-scale services; understanding the principles of distributed computing is hence important for the design and engineering of modern computing systems.  Fundamental issues that arise in reliable and efficient distributed systems include developing adequate methods for modeling failures and synchrony assumptions, determining precise performance bounds on implementations of concurrent data structures, capturing the trade-off between consistency and efficiency, and demarcating the frontier of feasibility in distributed computing.

For example, popular Internet services and applications such as CNN.com, YouTube, Facebook, Skype, BitTorrent attract millions of users every day, and only by the effective load-balancing and collaboration of many thousand machines, an acceptable Quality-of-Service/Quality-of-Experience can be guaranteed. While distributed systems promise a good scalability as well as a high robustness, they pose challenging research problems, such as: How to design robust and scalable distributed architectures and services? How to coordinate access to a shared resource, e.g., by electing a leader? Or how to provide incentives for cooperation in an open, collaborative distributed system?

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Selected Publications

The Complexity of Obstruction-Free Implementations
Zitatschlüssel AGHK-COFI-09
Autor Attiya, Hagit and Guerraoui, Rachid and Hendler, Danny and Kuznetsov, Petr
Seiten 1–33
Jahr 2009
ISSN 0004-5411
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/1538902.1538908
Journal Journal of the ACM
Jahrgang 56
Nummer 4
Monat June
Zusammenfassung Obstruction-free implementations of concurrent objects are optimized for the common case where there is no step contention, and were recently advocated as a solution to the costs associated with synchronization without locks. In this article, we study this claim and this goes through precisely defining the notions of obstruction-freedom and step contention. We consider several classes of obstruction-free implementations, present corresponding generic object implementations, and prove lower bounds on their complexity. Viewed collectively, our results establish that the worst-case operation time complexity of obstruction-free implementations is high, even in the absence of step contention. We also show that lock-based implementations are not subject to some of the time-complexity lower bounds we present.
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