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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?


Selected Publications

A Polylogarithmic Time Algorithm for Distributed Self-Stabilizing Skip Graphs
Citation key JRSST-PTADSSG-09
Author Jacob, Riko and Richa, Andréa and Scheideler, Christian and Schmid, Stefan and Täubig, Hanjo
Title of Book 28th ACM Symposium on Principles of Distributed Computing (PODC)
Pages 131–140
Year 2009
ISBN 978-1-60558-396-9
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/1582716.1582741
Location Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Month August
Abstract Peer-to-peer systems rely on scalable overlay networks that enable efficient routing between its members. Hypercubic topologies facilitate such operations while each node only needs to connect to a small number of other nodes. In contrast to static communication networks, peer-to-peer networks allow nodes to adapt their neighbor set over time in order to react to join and leave events and failures. This paper shows how to maintain such networks in a robust manner. Concretely, we present a distributed and self-stabilizing algorithm that constructs a (variant of the) skip graph in polylogarithmic time from any initial state in which the overlay network is still weakly connected. This is an exponential improvement compared to previously known self-stabilizing algorithms for overlay networks. In addition, individual joins and leaves are handled locally and require little work.
Link to publication Download Bibtex entry

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