June 20, 2017: Congratulations to CS Associate Prof. Jakob Eriksson on new $473K NSF grant

Congratulations to Jakob Eriksson on the receipt of a new NSF grant entitled "CSR: SHF: Medium: Collaborative Research: New Horizons in Deterministic Execution" for $473,363, running from July 2017 to June 2021. This is part of a larger overall collaborative research project with Joseph Devietti at University of Pennsylvania.

Jakob also received roughly $95,000 in additional funding on his ICT/IDOT award earlier in spring.

If you have ever struggled to explain nondeterminism to the general public (or a beginning undergraduate CS class), you may appreciate the beginning of the abstract:


If you have ever thought to yourself "huh, my computer didn't do that last time", you may have experienced what computer scientists call non-determinism. Today, most computer hardware executes programs in a non-deterministic fashion: a program may yield different output or behavior in different runs, given the exact same input, sometimes with disastrous consequences. Recent research enforces deterministic execution in inherently non-deterministic systems. Unfortunately, this often comes at a steep performance price. Also, until now determinism is only available for non-interactive programs. The goal of this project is to improve the efficiency of deterministic execution of concurrent programs, and to include a large class of interactive programs in the scope of deterministic execution. Longer term, the goal is to make deterministic computing a viable choice, where nondeterminism is the only option today. This would likely improve both the safety and quality of the vast number of multithreaded programs running on today's and tomorrow's multicore devices.

To bring the benefits of deterministic execution to real-world programs, this project investigates algorithms, runtime systems, operating systems and hardware support to improve the performance and applicability of determinism. The project is organized along three major thrusts: combating the clock skew in deterministic logical clocks that imposes unnecessary waiting on threads, using speculation to break the serial bottleneck that current systems impose on synchronization operations, and extending the scope of determinism to encompass interactive applications. The researchers plan to openly distribute the systems built for this project to facilitate examination by other researchers and integration with computer systems education.

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