Sunday, October 29, 2017

HPTS'17 day 1

This post is a continuation from yesterday's post. I cover only some of the talks, you may check the other talks from the HPTS agenda.

Mind your state for your state of mind (Pat Helland -Salesforce)

HPTS day 1 started with a keynote from Pat Helland. Pat Helland is a database veteran. I had covered some of his papers on this blog before. He writes insightful position papers with a unique style. The keynote provided an overview of trends in storage and computing and hit the high notes from his earlier position papers as well, and mentioned this table:
                          | fast-reads | fast-writes | read-your-write
linearizable       | no             | no              | yes           
nonlinearizable | yes            | yes            | no             
cached-data       | yes            | no             | no             

The point is you can't have everything. Pat argues "immutability is a solid rock to stand on" and is the closest you can get to yes, yes, yes, in that table. However, Pat cautions that what matters is not hitting yes, yes, yes on that table. Don't fall in love with any of those consistency semantics, what matters is the application requirements. Different applications demand different behaviors from durable state: Do you want it right or right now?

Here is Pat's presentation slides.

Stop building infrastructure (Evan Jones, Bluecore)

Evan started the presentation with a disclosure: warning: zero facts ahead. This was sign that this will be a deliberately provocative/controversial position. He argued that developers should stop building infrastructure (i.e., databases, load balancers, service orchestration software).

His main point was that companies already have their workflows/toolchains streamlined on a cloud vendor and compared to the simplicity of integrating an existing service from the cloud vendor to their workflows/toolchains, it is an uphill-battle to overcome when integrating a 3rd party to their workflow. Ain't nobody got time for that.

His other points were:

  • the cloud vendors are better at building infrastructure than you
  • even if you succeed, your infrastructure is going to run at cloud, and will make money to the cloud vendors
  • cloud vendors can destroy you via copy and crush
  • at a company it is easy to justify paying an existing cloud vendor, but it is cumbersome to convince management to buy 3rd party software

These are fair points, but I think his talk should instead be making the opposite point: things are dire for the infrastructure startups when facing the cloud vendors, so how can we help/encourage them? At one point in his talk, he mentioned that their company used only one outside vendor, the datadog, because google cloud hiked up the prices on its monitoring service. This shows that we should be rooting for the success of infrastructure services/companies so that the cloud vendors don't grab all power against the developers.

Moreover Evan's points don't take into account enterprise markets and also foreign markets like Europe and China. Infrastructure companies do exist because there is market for them. Several infrastructure/databases companies have done really great financially, and I hope we will see more success stories from them in the future as well.

Blockchain and Databases - C Mohan (IBM)

Mohan gave an overview of blockchain and talked about the HyperLedger project. His talk(s) and more information can be found at

CockroachDB: From OLTP to HTAP - Arjun Narayan (Cockroach Labs)

Here are the slides for the talk. OLTP stands for online transaction processing, and HTAP stands for hybrid transactional/analytical processing.

The talk gave a quick overview of CockroachDB's scale-out architecture to implement a WAN distributed SQL database service. When building CockroachDB the team prioritized correctness and stability over performance, and attacked those first. They are now working on performance improvements and achieving scale-out OLTP. Arjun talked about how HTAP can be done over CockroachDB in the future. He likes to leverage on the CockroachDB OLTP layer and adopt incrementally updated materialized views as the building primitive. Concretely, he argues that since CockroachDB timestamps give serializable transactions that span OLTP+OLAP, it is possible to build dataflow systems like Naiad or timely dataflow for achieving HTAP.


After the dinner, we gathered at the chapel for a potpourri of 5 minute talks. Andy Pavlo's student Joy Arulraj organized the session. (Joy will be on the academic job market and he will be a great catch for whoever manages to hire him.)

There were many interesting talks in the gong session. And with 5 minutes per talk, they were fast-paced as well.

Joy also convinced me to present at the gong show at around noon, so I had to write some slides in the afternoon. Thanks to the emacs-org-mode export to beamer I was able to come up with slides in time for the talk. I presented about our ongoing work on wPaxos, our WAN Paxos protocol. I will be writing a blog post about that sometime soon.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

HPTS'17 day 0

A couple weeks ago, I attended HPTS'17. As I wrote in my HTPS'15 posts (day1 and day2), HPTS is an unconventional workshop. "Every two years, HPTS brings together a lively and opinionated group of participants to discuss and debate the pressing topics that affect today's systems and their design and implementation, especially where scalability is concerned. The workshop includes position paper presentations, panels, moderated discussions, and significant time for casual interaction. The only publications are slide decks by presenters who choose to post them." HPTS is by invitation only and keeps it under 100 participants. The workshop brings together experts from both industry and academia so that they can mix and interact.

Although some people prefer to keep what happens at HPTS to stay at HPTS, I find it hard to not talk about HPTS. I learn a lot at HPTS and I want to share at least some of those. And this year I don't think there was any confidential technology discussed at all. So I don't think Pat Helland will find this post and shout at me.

Travel to HPTS

I flew from Buffalo (BUF) to Chicago (ORD) to San Jose (SJC). The United flights were on time, and I was happy except for United asking for payment for any sort of in-flight entertainment. Almost nobody pays for the in-flight movies, but unfortunately almost nobody turns off their monitors in the seats either. So every monitor in the plane keeps playing catchy advertising clips over and over again, which drives me mad. I am the type of person who cannot concentrate enough to participate in a conversation if there is a screen in the same room. So 3 hours into the flight, I get into a half-crazed mode, as these monitors catch my eye again and again in a loop and torture me.

I landed at the SJC airport at noon and headed to the car rental. I was excited because I was going to see if I could actually get my \$9 daily rate from Hertz.

Yes, you heard it right. When I bought my tickets from United a month earlier, I had reserved a car rental. The rates was around \$40 for SJC car rentals. I checked these a couple times and was trying to decide which company to rent to. Then when I refreshed the screen, I saw that Hertz was now only at \$9 daily to rent. This surely must have been a glitch or an update-error at their database, but I immediately jumped on this and reserved it. See the screenshot below.

So, when I arrived at the Hertz counter, I was determined to stick to my guns, and see how this will play out. HPTS dinner was not till 6pm, and I wasn't pressed for time. When it was my turn, I waited for the Hertz staff to provide me with my reservation. She wasn't able to find it with my name, but when I gave her the reservation number she located it. She said that they don't have any cars to offer at \$9 rate, let alone a midsize car for \$9. I insisted that this is the reservation I had, and didn't comment further. Now I got really curious and wanted to see how they will resolve this issue, but I wasn't going to make it easy for them by budging early.

She called her manager, and the manager moved me to another counter. At this point I was already into my 30 minutes at Hertz counter. The manager again couldn't locate the reservation with my name, but located it with the reservation number. He kept looking at it, and asked me about how I was able to get a reservation for \$9, because it was the lowest rate he has seen so far. I refrained from commenting. He stared at the screen for many minutes, and called his manager. While we waited for the manager's manager to arrive, the manager helping me was also on the phone with their support center. At one point he lit up, and said "Oh! That's why!!!"

At this point, we are about 50 minutes into my stay at the Hertz counters. But since I have been taking this at stride, and was curious about how it will play out, I am still having fun. I am even thinking "Oh I bet this will make a fun story for why distributed databases should implement strong consistency". (Like that time when Brad Fitzpatrick gave away an Apple Gift card for free on his Twitter account, and caused a race condition. Scroll down and expand to read the continuation of the thread, it is hilarious.)

OK, back to the manager and his enlightenment point. The manager told me that my reservation is for SJO and not for SJC. And I told him, I don't understand what he means. He then explained to me that my reservation was for SJO, CR, that is for the San Jose airport at Costa Rica, and not for SJO, CA, the San Jose airport at California. The manager's manager arrived and I explained to them that this is what the United web page gave me and I wasn't the one at fault. They told me not to worry as they will give me their best rate.

Their best rate turned out to be \$79. I thought that Hertz was a victim of a computer error and would have to go with the \$9 rate, but it turned out I was the victim of a computer error. The joke was on me now. So I moved to the Dollar counters, and rented a compact car for \$35 rate and left the car rental around 1:30pm. Computers hate me.

I still had time to kill before the HPTS dinner, so I drove through Santa Cruz. I took a walk at the Santa Cruz Wharf. It was an absolutely gorgeous day. I then drove to Asilomar conference grounds, checked in at my room, and took a nap before dinner.

Dinner and beyond

For dinner, I was at the same table with Shel Finkelstein and Ethan Miller both from UC Santa Cruz. When they asked me what I am working on these days, I mentioned about the WAN Paxos protocol I am working on. They were more interested about the semantics of its transaction model, and asked me whether it was MVCC and used snapshot isolation (the answer for our WAN Paxos is no). A long discussion on snapshot isolation ensued ---a proper way to start HPTS indeed. Shel gave a snapshot isolation with two variables on the snapshot a=0, b=100, and the invariant a<b. Thread 1 starts with that snapshot and sets a:=60, still satisfying the invariant. Thread 2 starts with that snapshot and sets b:=20, still satisfying the invariant. While both threads are individually correct, their combined result violates the invariant.

At the dinner, I also met with Peter Bailis briefly. Always nice to meet him again. I wish I had more time to chat and learn from him. Later on day 3, I met his graduate student Firas Abuzaid and chat with him as well.

After dinner, we went to the chapel for snacks and beverages. I met Jonathan Ellis, cofounder and CTO of DataStax and had a long talk. I then talked with a MongoDB engineer. And followed that by talking to Ben Darnell, CTO and cofounder of CockroachDB. Vaibhav Arora from UC Santa Barbara was also in that conversation. (He will be in job market soon, he is brilliant, hire him.) We talked about CockroachDB transaction commit protocol. The protocol starts like snapshot isolation, with the reads from a given timestamp, but at commit time it serializes commits and prevents conflicts in a pessimistic manner. That is, unlike the snapshot isolation example above, the protocol checks for the timestamps of the reads at Transaction 1 and Transaction 2 and would not allow those transactions to both commit since both transactions' timestamps are 0 and they overlap accessing same variables.

Then we moved to the directors cottage. Pat Helland had special beverage tasting scheduled there till midnight. I met Evan Jones from Bluecore.  I met several others in the cottage an talked about their current work and my current research.

Then I met Tony Voellm from Microsoft CosmosDB team, and talked with him at length. Then we both joined a group talking about SSD disks with Ethan Miller. Ethan argued that a big benefit to switching to SSDs is it reduces the space footprint of servers/storage in the datacenter, and that is a big gain.

I also talked to Ippokratis Pandis at Amazon, whom I knew from before.

I was later involved in another conversation, where I learned that datacenters accumulate junk, much like how our laptops accumulate junk files over years. And  closing restructuring a datacenter is a good chance to get rid of all that junk, much like how we get rid of junk files in our old laptops --by buying a new laptop.

End of day 0

I am not telling these to name drop (well maybe there is a bit of that). I am telling these to show that I was able to meet about 15 people just on day 0. And I am a shy guy. HPTS is great for meeting passionate people and geeking out about distributed systems. I looked at the attendance list and from a rough estimation I must have chat with at least 50 participants by the end of day 2 of HPTS.

There is a lot more to tell, but I will save Day 1 to the next post. Here is the HPTS'17 agenda to whet your appetite.

Friday, October 6, 2017

What does authentic mean?

Seth Godin defines authentic in relation to consistency. Recently, he defined it as "consistent emotional labor."
We call a brand or a person authentic when they're consistent, when they act the same way whether or not someone is looking. Someone is authentic when their actions are in alignment with what they promise.
Showing up as a pro.
Keeping promises.
Even when you don't feel like it.
Especially when you don't.

I agree with this definition. If I may refine it, I would define the authentic act/behavior as that which causes guilt/unrest, if you don't do it.

If you don't act as your authentic self, you feel as if you shortchanged yourself, you feel guilt and pain.

This doesn't mean that doing the authentic act is not painful. (After all if it is not painful, it is not worth doing. It is trivial.) Authentic means that if you don't do it, it is also painful because it causes guilt and unrest.

At least if you act as your authentic self, you find peace eventually through your pain of labor.

This is exactly how I feel about writing and research.

This is probably how entrepreneurs feel about starting businesses. It is painful, but they cannot not do it. This is also how athletes feel about training; it hurts but they cannot not do it.

So, in War of Art author Steven Pressfield's terms, authentic means being motivated territorially rather than hierarchically, in spite of how hard the resistance pushes you back.

Geesh, I am now writing Seth Godin style posts? What is wrong with me?

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

UB CSE 50 celebrations, Alumni Symposium

The last couple of days we celebrated 50th anniversary of our department, CSE at University at Buffalo. We celebrated the anniversary with a technical conference and panels. Yesterday, I wrote about the Graduate Research Conference on Friday. Today, I am posting my notes on the Alumni Symposium that took place on Saturday. Here is a link to the full program. 

Keynote Speaker: Prof. Sung-Mo "Steve" Kang. “The 4th Industrial Revolution and Future of Nanoscience and Engineering”.

Prof. Steve Kang got an MS from our department in 1972. He was Prof. Peter Scott's student.

Steve talked about the era of the 4th industrial revolution: 1. steam engine (labor), 2. electricity (energy), 3. computing (knowledge), and 4. cyberphysical system (smart production / soft power).

As part of this 4th era, Steve credits machine learning as important. He gave examples of alpha go vs Lee Sedol, a novel written by AI in Japan, the KAIST hubo roboto winning 2015 darpa robotic challenge, and an AI lawyer Ross at Baker & Hostetler LLP.

Then he went back and started taking us through the history with the invention of transistor in 1947, and integrated circuit in 1958. Steve then talked about how he has led the development of the world's first 32-bit microprocessor chips as a technical supervisor at AT&T Bell Laboratories in 1981.

When I say Steve talked about this, I am not being truthful. Steve is so humble that he never mentioned that he had led the project. He just talked about how it was challenging to build the chip, and how the team has done a wonderful job.

Then he talked about how to achieve progress unlimited by Moore's law. The key is diversification to the biochips. This harks back to the neuromorphic engineering mentioned in Prof. Bruce Shriver's talk the previous day. 

He then mentioned about memristors. Steve's PhD advisor Prof. Chua at UC Berkeley had conjectured that to complement, capacitor, resistor, and inductor, another component memristor should exist. Steve was again very humble, and mentioned this as a footnote, but his PhD dissertation laid out the theory behind memristors. A memristor is a resistor with memory: "The memristor's electrical resistance is not constant but depends on the history of current that had previously flowed through the device, i.e., its present resistance depends on how much electric charge has flowed in what direction through it in the past; the device remembers its history."

In 2008, a team at HP Labs claimed to have found Chua's missing memristor based on an analysis of a thin film of titanium dioxide thus connecting the operation of RRAM devices to the memristor concept. The result was published in Nature. Although HP has made announcement for production of memristor, it is not done yet, which is normal. After the invention of transistors it took a long time before they got practical.

Memristors has many potential applications in neuromorphic computing/engineering. Steve talked about the brain's neocortex having a structure consisting in 6 layers, and how many people see some analogs to FPGA designs in that. It may be possible to implement a synapse using a unit similar to memristors. He mentioned that the Hodgkin–Huxley model of neurons turn out to equivalent to memristors.

Steve finished his keynote talking about the higher education goals: creativity, soft skills, challenge, knowledge. He also talked about the seven social sins by Gandhi:

  1. Wealth without work.
  2. Pleasure without conscience.
  3. Knowledge without character.
  4. Commerce without morality.
  5. Science without humanity.
  6. Religion without sacrifice.
  7. Politics without principle.

Panel 1: Hot Topics in Industry and Academia 

Chair:  D. Sivakumar (Google). Panelists: Victor Bahl (Microsoft),  Anmol Bhasin (Salesforce), Jin-Yi Cai (Wisconsin), Justin Delvecchio (CURC), Faisal Farooq (IBM), Robert Myers (IBM Innovation Center Buffalo), Ashish Naik (Google), Jian Pei (Simon Fraser), Sridhar Seshadri  (Synopsys)

The panel included people in core (algorithms and infrastructure),  data/information management, and application layers of computing. Some interesting tidbits from this panel were as follows.

"Some interesting recent developments in theory/algorithms include Laszlo Babai's work on graph isomorphism."

"The design automation tools and functional verification tools are vital for integrated circuits. Nowadays the ratio of design/verification employees are 50-50, previously the ratio of design/verification employees were 80-20. Verification is of utmost importance. Model checking tools do not suffice due to sheer scale of the variables/state involved in todays' integrated circuits."

"With a background in computer science theory you can be a good impostor in any other field. I've been winging it for the last 20 years."

"Workloads are changing: ML workloads are becoming most of our workload these days. Fortunately, energy is not growing exponentially, not following the Moore's law. Accelerators like TPUs help for energy efficiency. Renewable energy sources are also used as well."

"Homomorphic encryption in cloud computing will get more important, so that government cannot subpoena the cloud providers."

"I am a skeptic on quantum computing, but a proponent on quantum communication."

"Shtetl-Optimized, Scott Aaronson's blog, is a nice source to follow on developments on quantum computing."

"A/B testing dramatically adopted in commercial products for personalization/customization."

"Deep learning is eating the world. DL/ML will have a very wide impact in unsuspected fields yet: long tail in industry, farming, etc."

"What will DL do to the data science fields?"

"Health is ripe for disruptions!"

"Developing/demonstrating the disruptive killer application is as hard as developing the disruption technology. Don't stop at technology, go end-to-end with application as well, that is as critical and important."

"The future trend estimation reports in 2006, predicted 3D printing and cloud correctly, but flapped on Virtual Reality and Second Life predictions."

"Introduction of sensors/UAVs changed DOD drastically."

Panel 2: Entrepreneurship - Opportunities and Lessons Learned 

Chair: Kannan Govindarajan. Panelists: Russ Agrusa (Iconics), Bob Fritzinger (UB TechTransfer), Dan Magnuszewski (ACV), Ron Schreiber (to be confirmed), Rohini K. Srihari (UB)

Some select quotes from this panel include...

"I was fortunate to be in the right place in the right time." (Repeated many times.)

"I have a compulsion to not say no to opportunities."

"Hodgetech in Buffalo was the first high school in the nation (world?) to have a computer and subsequently computer programming classes. (1962)"

"Among the long tail of industries not yet benefited from machine learning and big data technologies include: peace giving and conflict resolution domains. These are multi billion dollar markets as well"

"Always go to your mom and wife first for funding."

"Job < Career < Calling"

"Finish things, solve real problems, have real impact, and have control."

"After my entrepreunership experiences, the projects I assign in my classes are more holistic problem solving projects."

"When I design a product, I first talk to sales person, would you be able to sell this?"

Panel 4: Vision for CSE Department

Chair: Bharat Jayaraman (CSE UB). Panelists: Raj Acharya (Indiana U), Mark Crovella (Boston U), Deepak Kumar (Bryn Mawr College),  Aidong Zhang (UB)

Well you know the drill. Here are some quotes from the panel without context.

"There is a boom in CSE enrollment. This replicates what we experienced in 80s. At that time we made the mistake of weeding students out of our courses, and became selective to fight being overcrowded. We should not repeat that mistake. Instead we should grow to handle capacity."

"We should be mindful about increasing diversity. Digital humanities! How do you train the K12 teachers for teaching CSE?"

"How do you prepare current students for industry? Recommendation: make the distinction between science and technology."

"Renaissance engineer: entrenched in domain, but also has background in humanities."

"Why are students choosing CSE? It is not just for jobs, it is more than that. Students don't think CSE people anymore as Dilberts in cubicles. The new perception is that CSE has impact!"

"Convergence in CSE: interdisciplinary < multidisciplinary < transdisciplinary!"

"How do we give the medicine that taste bad? How do we teach fundamentals, when students would be more interested in just the technology fads? Cultivate Intellectual Deep Curiosity!"

Banquet dinner talks

After the alumni symposium, we headed to dinner, and after dinner, we listened to alumni reminisce about the department. This was the most entertaining session. The alumni told funny and emotional stories about their time in the department. The thing that came up again and again was the warmth in the department. The alumni that spoke in the event kept mentioning how it was a tight-knit community in the department and how they use to go to dinners at the faculty's houses. Those were the memories that most impressed on them. As our department gets bigger that maintaining that warmth also gets challenging. I had joined the department when it was about 20 faculty in 2005. Now it is close to 50 faculty. That is fast growth! We currently have around 150 PhD students, 450 Masters student, and 1400 undergraduate students. In spite of the growth, it is important to keep that warmth alive among the faculty and between the faculty and students.

The entire event of 3 days made me realize once again that we are not only in the business of science & engineering, but also as much in the business of raising scientists & engineers. It was great to see how our department was having impact on the world via our alumni as well.

Monday, October 2, 2017

UB CSE 50 celebrations, The Graduate Research Conference

Over the last couple of days, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of our department, CSE at University at Buffalo. We celebrated the anniversary with a technical conference and panels, so it was an opportunity to learn new things for everyone. With the attendance of many prominent UB-CSE alumni, it has been a really amazing 2.5 days. Here is a link to the CSE 50 conference program.

On Thursday evening, the event was kicked off with a reception and an undergraduate poster session. The thing that surprised me in this poster session was how quickly the PM2.5 sensors miniaturized. PM2.5 refers to atmospheric particulate matter (PM) that have a diameter less than 2.5 micrometers, which is about 3% the diameter of a human hair. PM2.5 is a traffic-related pollutant implicated in a wide variety of adverse health outcomes. I was involved in a NIH/NIEHS project for using smartphone-based time-activity data for air pollutant exposure estimation from 2010-12. At that time PM2.5 sensors were mini-fridge sized and expensive to buy and deploy. On the poster demo, my jaw hit the floor when I saw the new generation of PM2.5 sensors that are palm-sized and are connected to Arduino boards.

The Friday conference consisted of 3 keynote presentations and 4 sessions. The sessions were a mix of invited alumni talks and our own graduate students unpublished original paper presentations.

I was the program chair for the Friday conference, and was responsible for selecting the graduate papers. I used EasyChair to collect the paper submissions and review them. We formed a technical program committee of 22 alumni/faculty. Out of 21 paper submissions, we selected 8 for the Friday program. While all the submissions were high quality, we had to be selective to keep to the time constraints. We also processed 50 poster submissions, and chose 29 papers among them for the graduate poster presentation on Saturday.

Here are my notes from some of the talks on Friday.

Keynote 1 - Dr. Victor Bahl (Microsoft Research) "Democratization of Streaming Video Analytics & the Emergence of Edge Computing"

Victor got a BS & MS degree from ECE at UB at the end of 80s. He is a  Distinguished Scientist and Director of Mobile & Networking Research at Microsoft. 

His talk was about edge computing, looking beyond cloud computing. In a 2013 meeting in Microsoft, he had claimed that by 2020, cloud computing would be disaggregated and augmented by edge/fog computing. He defended edge computing putting forth latency/bandwidth, expense/service, and battery-saving reasons.

Since then he was involved in proving the utility of edge computing with killer applications. He talked about "Glimpse: continuous realtime object recognition of mobile devices" from Sensys 2014 as one application. Another application is the connected car. In 2015, they came up with ParkMaster, edge-powered in vehicle analytics for detecting open parking spaces in urban environments. As you drive your smartphone detects (and then uploads to cloud) empty parking spaces for others to later park in that street. Your car provides service to others, and in return others provide the same service to you.

Yet, as another application of edge computing, he pursued surveillance of public buildings. The idea is to do the filtering/analysis of video feeds right in the building machines, instead of uploading the videos to cloud for remote offline analysis.

And finally, most recently, he has been applying the edge computing concept to  live video analytics of traffic cameras at intersections. This project serves by collecting traffic video analytics and data for the Vision Zero project. Vision Zero is a multi-national road traffic safety project started in 1997 that aims to achieve a highway system with no fatalities or serious injuries involving road traffic. The project is deployed and in use in Bellevue and Seattle streets, and is in progress to be deployed in Cambridge UK.

Invited talk: Prof. Bruce Shriver (Liddy Shriver Sarcoma Initiative), "Unconventional Computer Architectures"

Bruce started his PhD at University at Buffalo CS department in 1968 and got his PhD in 1971. His talk was about rethinking/rebooting computation and computers and touched on many topics including neuromorphic engineering. (This topic was also revisited by Dr. Steve Kang, another of our alum, in his Saturday's keynote titled "The 4th Industrial Revolution and Future of Nanoscience and Engineering".)

Bruce has been interested in how the human brain organizes, stores, accesses and understands sensory input and its accumulated knowledge, and yet run with such a small power requirement. The recent success and wide adoption of CRISPR has invigorated the area. Bruce's presentation referred to several recent articles in the area, including:

  • DNA Fountain enables a robust and efficient storage architecture, Elrich et al, Science, March 2017
  • Model-based design of RNA hybridization networks implemented in living cells, Rodrigo et al, Nucleic Acids Research, September 2017
  • Complex cellular logic computation using ribocomputing devices, Green at al, Nature, July 2017
  • Silicon quantum processor with robust long-distance qubit couplings, Tosi et al, Nature Communications, September 2017
  • A Brain Built From Atomic Switches Can Learn, Quanta Magazine, Andreas von Bubnoff, September 2017
  • On-chip generation of high-dimensional entangled quantum states and their coherent control, Kues et al, Nature, June 2017
  • A million spiking-neuron integrated circuit with a scalable communication network and interface, Merolla et al, Science, August 2014
Bruce pointed out that these unconventional new architectures would need new type of algorithms, a type we do not have yet. He urged the audience to think about what type of algorithms, software, programming language, OS, hardware, and programmers would be needed to address these challenges. Bruce conjectured that we should see breakthroughs via molecular computing I/O.

Student paper presentations

Among the student papers, some of the most interesting ones for me were the following.

  • "Metadata-based Feature Aggregation Network for Face Recognition" by Nishant Sankaran, Sergey Tulyakov, Srirangaraj Setlur and Venugopal Govindaraju. The idea here is to use metadata (yaw, pitch, roll, gender) unperturbed by the feature extraction process to gauge quality of facial image.
  • "Differentially Private Empirical Risk Minimization with Non-convex Loss Function" by Di Wang and Jinhui Xu.
  • "Emulating Quantum Circuits Via Boolean Formulas and #SAT Solving" by Chaowen Guan and Kenneth Regan.

Two-phase commit and beyond

In this post, we model and explore the two-phase commit protocol using TLA+. The two-phase commit protocol is practical and is used in man...