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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

Towards Worst-Case Churn Resistant Peer-to-Peer Systems
Citation key KSW-TWCCRP2PS-10
Author Kuhn, Fabian and Schmid, Stefan and Wattenhofer, Roger
Pages 249–267
Year 2010
ISSN 0178-2770
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00446-010-0099-z
Journal Distributed Computing Journal (DC)
Volume 22
Number 4
Month May
Publisher Springer
Abstract Until now, the analysis of fault tolerance of peer-to-peer systems usually only covers random faults of some kind. Contrary to traditional algorithmic research, faults as well as joins and leaves occurring in a worst-case manner are hardly considered. In this article, we devise techniques to build dynamic peer-to-peer systems which remain fully functional in spite of an adversary who continuously adds and removes peers. We exemplify our algorithms on hypercube and pancake topologies and present a system which maintains small peer degree and network diameter.
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