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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

eQuus: A Provably Robust and Locality-Aware Peer-to-Peer System
Citation key LSW-EPRLPS-05
Author Locher, Thomas and Schmid, Stefan and Wattenhofer, Roger
Title of Book 6th IEEE International Conference on Peer-to-Peer Computing (P2P)
Pages 3–11
Year 2006
ISBN 0-7695-2679-9
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1109/P2P.2006.17
Month September
Abstract Peer-to-peer systems (p2p) are highly dynamic in nature. They may consist of millions of peers joining only for a limited period of time, resulting in hundreds of join and leave events per second. In this paper we introduce eQuus, a novel distributed hash table (DHT) suitable for highly dynamic environments. eQuus guarantees that lookups are always fast–-in terms of both the delay and the total number of routing hops–-, although peers may join and leave the network at any time and concurrently.
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