Thursday, May 21, 2009

HotOS 2009, Day Three

HotOS wrapped up yesterday. (I'm now in Trento, giving a talk at the University of Trento tomorrow, meeting with colleagues at ArsLogica, and driving back to Milan on Saturday before heading home.)

Click here for some photos from HotOS 2009.

A few highlights from the last day:

Maysam Yabandeh from EPFL talked about Simplifying Distributed System Development, by using a dynamic controller that predicts a distributed system's behavior (based on code analysis) and automatically tuning its operation. This seems closely related to work on Dicrete Control Theory and Yin Wang's paper in Eurosys 2007.

Emre Kıcıman (note typographically-correct use of Turkish ı glyph) gave a talk on Fluxo, a "service complier" that takes a high-level description of an Internet service and maps it down onto an implementation with caching, replication, and service partitioning performed automatically. This seems like a fantastic idea to me, in line with the use of other "service frameworks" such as Rails and Turbogears, but going much further. The challenge I see is debugging and performance tuning the resulting system.

Finally, Vijay Vasudevan from CMU have my second-favorite talk of the workshop on FAWN, a design for compute clusters based on extremely power efficient nodes (ALIX boards with CF drives) that are intended to yield the highest number of operations per joule. The design space was well presented and I like how Vijay did not present this as the best solution for all possible workloads. I'd like to see what the total cost of ownership involves when you factor in wearout of the flash drives and MTTF of the hardware itself.

Overall I think this was the best HotOS that I have been to. The talks were generally very good and on interesting topics. The location was superb -- remote enough to keep people together, but with a decent town nearby. The level of interaction was extremely high, although I would have liked to see shorter talks and a bit more discussion and less requests to "please save your questions until the end." I wonder if they shouldn't have disabled the WiFi during the sessions, although I think most people were pretty engaged and asked good questions. Armando, Ellie, Mothy, and the rest did a great job pulling it together.


  1. Highest joules per operation?

  2. My bad. Flip that - "highest number of operations per joule" - just edited.


Startup Life: Three Months In

I've posted a story to Medium on what it's been like to work at a startup, after years at Google. Check it out here.