Computer Science Thesis Proposal

Thursday, September 12, 2019 - 9:30am to 10:30am


8102 Gates Hillman Centers



Theoretical Foundations for Modern Multiprocessor Hardware

Many large-scale computations are nowadays done using several processors, whether on a single multithreaded machine, or distributed over many machines. Thus, it is now more important than ever to understand distributed computation, and to make the best use of what its technology has to offer. To this end, it is important that the theory and practice of distributed computing complement each other, since theory could be used to reason about practical systems, and practical systems can provide interesting theoretical problems. Unfortunately, theory and practice in the study of multiprocessor systems are still far apart; it is hard to abstract practical problems into approachable theoretical ones, leading to theoretical models that are too far removed from reality to be easily applied in practice. This is further complicated by ever-changing technologies that offer new features, requiring theoretical models to adapt quickly, and be general enough to encompass multiple hardware generations.

In this thesis, I aim to bridge this gap by building a solid theoretical foundation for practical distributed computing. I present a way to model contention in shared memory systems, thereby accounting for costs more accurately than before when designing concurrent algorithms. Furthermore, I study emerging technologies, including non-volatile random access memories (NVRAM) and remote direct memory access (RDMA) as a communication primitive in data centers. For NVRAM, I develop a general transformation that allows adapting many classic concurrent algorithms to a setting in which memory is non-volatile and is able to recover after a system crash. Finally, I study RDMA as a tool for replication in data centers, and show that RDMA allows for heightened performance and fault tolerance in such systems.

Thesis Committee:
Guy Blelloch (Chair)
Umut Acar
Phil Gibbons
Mor Harchol-Balter
Erez Petrank (Technion - Israel Institute of Technology)

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Thesis Proposal