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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

On Mechanism Design Without Payments for Throughput Maximization
Citation key MS-MDWPTM-09
Author Moscibroda, Thomas and Schmid, Stefan
Title of Book 28th IEEE Conference on Computer Communications (INFOCOM)
Pages 972–980
Year 2009
ISBN 978-1-4244-3512-8
ISSN 0743-166X
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1109/INFCOM.2009.5062008
Location Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Month April
Abstract Many wireless standards and protocols today, such as WLAN and Bluetooth, operate on similar frequency bands. While this permits an efficient usage of the limited medium capacity, transmissions of nodes running different protocols can interfere. This paper studies how to design node discovery algorithms for wireless multichannel networks which are robust against contending protocols on the shared medium. We pursue a conservative approach and consider a Byzantine adversary who prevents the communication of our protocol on t channels in a worst-case fashion. Our model also captures disruptions controlled by an adversarial jammer. This paper presents algorithms for scenarios where t is not known. The analytical findings are complemented by simulations providing evidence that the proposed protocols perform well in practice.
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