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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

Push-to-Pull Peer-to-Peer Live Streaming
Citation key LMSW-PPLS-07
Author Locher, Thomas and Meier, Remo and Schmid, Stefan and Wattenhofer, Roger
Title of Book 21st International Symposium on Distributed Computing (DISC)
Pages 388–402
Year 2007
ISBN 978-3-540-75141-0
ISSN 0302-9743
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-3-540-75142-7_30
Location Lemesos, Cyprus
Address Berlin / Heidelberg, Germany
Volume 4731
Month September
Publisher Springer
Series Lecture Notes in Computer Science (LNCS)
Abstract In contrast to peer-to-peer file sharing, live streaming based on peer-to-peer technology is still awaiting its breakthrough. This may be due to the additional challenges live streaming faces, e.g., the need to meet real-time playback deadlines, or the increased demands on robustness under churn. This paper presents and evaluates novel neighbor selection and data distribution schemes for peer-to-peer live streaming. Concretely, in order to distribute data efficiently and with minimal delay, our algorithms combine low-latency push operations along a structured overlay with the flexibility of pull operations. The protocols ensure that all peers are able to obtain the required data blocks of a live stream in time, and that due to the loop-free dissemination paths, the overhead is low.
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