Internet Systems, Networking, and Security Initiative

We are researching computer and internet technologies that are transforming the ways we live, learn, work, and play. Advances in these technologies provide the core of the infrastructure that is driving economic growth. The systems & architecture research group is currently working on high-impact problems related to providing users with advanced networking, distributed Internet systems, and pervasive wireless computing as the Internet continues to permeate our daily lives.

In the 1990s, the public Internet emerged as a common basis for information sharing, large-scale computation, communication, education, and entertainment. Advances in network technology have triggered a shift toward a service-based model of computing; in this model interconnected servers host shared applications and data repositories, accessed from client devices that are increasingly specialized, portable, and pervasive. This introduces tremendous new opportunities, as well as new vulnerabilities and fundamental new architectural challenges for networked computing systems. As the scale of deployed systems increases, the focus in this area will become increasingly network-centric and shaped by security concerns.

Our faculty members have established a reputation for carrying out some of the leading experimental systems work in the country. The goal of the group is to work on high-impact problems related to providing users with computing and networking support for their applications. The area is broadly defined, covering topics ranging from internet-based services to ad hoc wireless networks, from massive data storage centers to tiny sensor nodes, from the dataflow within hardware components to global replication of databases across the wide area, and from security to energy efficiency. Recent research projects span architectures and operating systems for high-performance servers and clusters, systems for wireless sensor networks, and power management for mobile computing devices, as well as fundamental techniques for building and evaluating robust, scalable, wide-area distributed services. We are also exploring the performance and correctness of programs executing on multithreaded systems (including multiprocessors) by continuously monitoring programs for anomalous behavior (e.g., deadlock or excessive synchronization overhead). Along with techniques to detect programming errors, we are also developing techniques to detect and recover from hardware errors (e.g., transient faults and manufacturing defects). In collaboration with operating systems researchers, we are exploring techniques to manage energy as a first class resource.

The group has established collaborations with leading industry and academic institutions and much of the ongoing work focuses on Internet operating systems that improve robustness and survivability by adapting to the inherent dynamism of the Internet environment, which features massive load swings, network instabilities, and unexpected failures and attacks. These systems instantiate services wherever adequate resources exist, rather than binding them to a specific location. This direction aligns well with long-term initiatives in industry and government - including major industrial partners - toward secure "grid" or "utility" computing for large-scale computational science and commercial services.