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Zoom, zoom, zoom

The new school year is on its way. My daughter is a kindergartener, my other daughter is a fourth grader, and my son is an eight grader. They will all be attending school as remote. It is going to be a challenging school year for all of us.
The school offered a hybrid version of 2 days of in-person teaching followed by a day of remote teaching, and assignments. But we chose the all remote version. Our reasoning was that these schools will all be converting to remote in a month or two anyways, so why keep up the facade. A better strategy for the schools would be to keep it simple, and put all their preparation efforts for a fully online platform. I think most of the reason for putting up the facade is because of the pressure from the parents who are unable to accept this new reality. 
For my little daughter we sure had imagined this year differently. We were thinking that she would be holding hands with her older sister, sharing seats on the school bus ride to school and back, and have g…

My Distributed Systems Seminar's reading list for Fall 2020

In the Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives (Steven Levy, 2011)

I read this book recently. Going into this, I knew I wouldn't learn many new/surprising things. After all, I have been following Google from outside since 1999. After I saw Google in action, I had switched to it immediately. I was quick to get on board with Gmail as well, and followed many Google services over the years. I have seen things.As I anticipated, I didn't find many surprises in the book. But I liked the book nevertheless. It is always nice to read stuff from Steven Levy. Steven Levy is one of my favorite authors. I have a dog-eared copy of the Hackers book he wrote. It was excellent writing. So much research went into each character in the book, and he made each character come alive. He also weaved the narration together artistically around a handful of themes and related new information/events back to these themes. He had put a lot of his interpretation and insight in to the facts/narrative, and I really enjoyed that. This book is not as colorful. It has a raw blan…

The Impact of RDMA on Agreement

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This paper appeared in PODC 2019. PODC stands for Principles of Distributed Computing. It is a theoretical distributed systems conference, first established in 1982. I had published my first ever paper, "Resettable Vector Clocks" at PODC 2000. The conference was held in Portland and, as a fresh graduate student attending it, I was awe-struck at the conference. On day one of the conference, I saw Leslie Lamport interrupting a talk asking a question and protesting loudly. Then Keith Marzullo in the audience (I think) pointed out the misunderstanding and Leslie Lamport said "Nevermind" and calmed down. I also noticed that the person sitting next to me was, oh my God, Nancy Lynch! I couldn't believe my luck seeing all these distributed systems royalty in person. Also in this conference, on day three, Eric Brewer gave his CAP theorem talk.Good times! Anyways, back to the paper. Contributions of the paperUnder the message-passing model, BFT consensus requires $n \geq…

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