School of Computing


BROADCAST WG - Basic Research On Advanced Distributed Computing: from Algorithms to SysTems WG

Explosive growth in the use of tools and services for searching and accessing information available over the Internet coupled with advances in communications technology are opening up a wide class of new applications ranging from home entertainment to electronic commerce. Thus, large-scale distributed computing systems (LSDCS) comprising several thousands to millions of individual computer systems (nodes) are rapidly coming into existence. However, the existing infrastructure used by, say the World-Wide Web, must be extended if it is to continue to scale in numbers of users, offer bandwidth guarantees and support the new classes of network applications. There is therefore a compelling need for supporting research activities that will focus on issues concerned with large scale distributed computing. The main objective of the Working Group (WG) is to create a forum where principles and practice of designing and implementing LSDCS can be discussed and new ideas and practical experience shared. All the academic members of the Broadcast-WG have worked together on Project 6360 on LSDCS, called Broadcast (which terminated in August 1995) and have built up good inter-site links for collaboration. WG partners are continuing their work in a number of research projects in LSDCS funded by EU, industry and national governments, with each individual project addressing some of aspect of LSDCS within a specific application domain. The Consortium as a whole represents a group of researchers active in both the theory and practice of distributed systems; this is its major strength. Industry sponsored RTD projects of WG partners in the area of LSDCS include Video on Demand, IRISA (sponsor: Thomson); Distributed debugging, IRISA (sponsor: Chorus); resource discovery services, IMAG (sponsor: France Telecom); distributed garbage collection, INRIA (sponsor: CNET); fault tolerance in telecommunication services, Univ. of Newcastle (sponsors: Nortel Technology, GPT and HP). Two of the Broadcast-WG partners (EPFL, Newcastle) are also members of recently approved LTR project DeVa (Design for Validation). The industrial partners of the WG, APM and Chorus collaborate with several IT companies, including ALCATEL, HP, in a major EU sponsored project, RETINA, devoted to the development of a platform for telecommunication systems. APM is also collaborating with HP, Swiss Bank and others in EU sponsored project E2S on end-to-end security. The WG activities will focus on research issues concerned with the development of software technology for the creation of network services for information sharing. Accordingly, these activities will be centred on the organisation of workshops, meetings and seminars with the underlying theme of Information Sharing and Programming Paradigms and Tools. Closed workshop will be organised around a small set of topics selected from these themes. Industrial partners of the WG will provide the industrial perspective on the research work and its relevance to specific application requirements. Workshops will contain application specific sessions, such as: fault tolerance in telecommunication systems, bringing distributed object technology to the World Wide Web, and microkernel support for responsive services. Open workshops will also be organised to act as a forum for presenting the latest research results, technological developments and trends in the area of LSDCS. Invitations to the open workshop will be sent to the scientific community (specially to members of related projects and the Research Network on Distributed Computing Architectures, CaberNet), to industrials groups, and to the EU. The WG will also organise European Research Seminar on Advances in Distributed Systems (ERSADS). This Seminar will combine an Advanced School and a Research Workshop, and is intended to be a major European forum for interchange between students, junior researchers, and professionals in the area of Distributed Systems. The above mentioned WG activities will influence industrial R&D effort by clarifying underlying problems and exposing comparative advantages and disadvantages of solutions. The membership of Chorus and APM (and through APM, ANSA sponsors), academic partner involvement in downstream projects and other industrial participation will ensure that the needs of industry are a key determinant in planning and execution of WG activities. By focusing the workshops to specific application requirements, the WG will contribute towards the development of innovative software technology that application builders will demand for constructing network based information sharing services.