Best Paper Award Goes to Operating Systems Researchers at OSDI 2016

A team of current and former students of University of California San Diego Computer Science and Engineering professor Yuanyuan (YY) Zhou, together with a longtime industry collaborator, are the recipients of a Best Paper Award at the 12th USENIX Symposium on Operating Systems Design and Implementation (OSDI 16). The award was announced November 2 on the first day of the three-day conference in Savannah, GA. Sponsored by USENIX in cooperation with the ACM Special Interest Group on Operating Systems (SIGOPS), OSDI is the premier conference in the field of computer systems research.

Tianyin Xu
Tianyin Xu

The winning paper, “Early Detection of Configuration Errors to Reduce Failure Damage”*, was presented by first author and CNS/CSE Ph.D. student Tianyin Xu in a session on troubleshooting. In his talk, Xu presented a tool called PCHECK, which analyzes source code and automatically generates configuration checking code (dubbed ‘checkers’). Checkers emulate the late execution that uses configuration values, and detect latent-configuration (LC) errors at the initialization phase o the systems. “Compared with existing detection tools,” concluded Xu, “it can detect 31 percent more LC errors.”  Xu and his co-authors developed PCHECK after realizing that up to 93 percent of widely-used software systems’ configurations “do not have any special code for checking the correctness of their settings at the system’s initialization time.” This makes such systems subject to LC errors in critically important configurations – notably those related to reliability, serviceability and availability.

According to Xu’s advisor, professor YY Zhou, “early detection is the key to minimizing failure damage induced by configuration errors, especially those errors in configurations that control failure handling and fault tolerance.” Zhou holds the Qualcomm Endowed Chair in Mobile Computing, a chair funded by Qualcomm, Inc., through its commitment to the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2). She is also a member of the Center for Networked Systems (CNS).

In addition to Prof. Zhou and first author Xu, co-authors on the paper include CSE Ph.D. students Xinxin Jin and Long Jin (advised, respectively, by YY Zhou and Zhuowen Tu), and recent graduate Peng (Ryan) Huang (Ph.D ’16). Co-author Shan Lu is a former student of Zhou’s at the University of Illinois, but she is now a computer-science professor at the University of Chicago. Finally, Shankar Pasupathy, technical director of analytics at Network Appliance (NetApp), is a longtime industry collaborator with Zhou’s Operating Systems Research (Opera) group at UC San Diego.

The team behind the Best Paper award also presented their research in poster form during the Nov. 2 poster session at OSDI. In related news, CSE Prof. George Porter, who also co-directs the Center for Networked Systems (CNS) at UC San Diego, was also co-chair the OSDI poster committee, while also sitting on the symposium’s program committee.

*Early Detection of Configuration Errors to Reduce Failure Damage, by Tianyin Xu, Xinxin Jin, Peng Huang, Yuanyuan Zhou, Shan Lu, Long Jin, and Shankar Pasupathy, Proc., 12th USENIX Symposium on Operating Systems Design and Implementation (OSDI 16), November 2016

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OSDI 2016