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Category Archives: cloud

Bright and early next Monday morning I’m giving the keynote talk at PODS, the annual database theory conference.  The topic: (a) to summarize seven years of experience using logic to build distributed systems and network protocols (including P2, DSN, and recent BOOM work), and (b) to set out some ideas about the foundations of distributed and parallel programming that fell out from that experience.

I posted the paper underlying the talk, called The Declarative Imperative: Experiences and Conjectures in Distributed Logic. It’s written for database theoreticians, and in a spirit of academic fun it’s maybe a little over the top.  But I’m hopeful that the main ideas can clarify how we think about the practice of building distributed systems, and the languages we design for that purpose.  The talk will be streamed live and archived (along with keynotes from the SIGMOD and SOCC conferences later in the week.)

Below the break is a preview of the big ideas.  I’ll post about them at more length over the next few weeks, hopefully in more practical/approachable terms than I’m using for PODS.

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We were happy to find out this week that our BOOM project and and Bloom langauge have been selected by Technology Review magazine as one of the TR10, their “annual list of the emerging technologies that will have the biggest impact on our world.” This was news to us — we knew they were going to run an article, but weren’t aware of the TR10 distinction. Pretty neat.

I’ve been getting a lot of questions since the article launched about the project and language. So while folks are paying attention, here’s a quick FAQ to answer what the project is all about and its status.

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Saw a fun talk at the Eurosys conference today on Otherworld, a facility that allows applications to recover after an OS crash. It included a demo of an editor running over Linux running over a virtual machine. Fault injected into Linux, which crashes, reboots, and restores the editor to its previous state. Nifty. The authors point out how nice this would be for a very stateful app — say mysql running on in-memory files. (Fast and easy, right? Though clearly not a good idea relative to a real main memory db with smart logging, e.g. TimesTen, in terms of performance or reliability.)

But this got me thinking about the datacenter software stack we’re starting to take for granted, and I no longer see why we need an operating system at all.

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It’s been about 6 years now that we’ve been working on declarative programming for distributed systems — starting with routing protocols, then network overlays, query optimizers, sensor network stacks, and more recently scalable analytics and consensus protocols.

Through that time, we’ve struggled to find a useful middle ground between the pure logic roots of classical declarative languages like Datalog, and the practical needs of real systems managing state across networks. Our compromises over the years allowed us to move forward, build real things, and learn many lessons. But they also led to some semantic confusion — as noted in papers by colleagues at Max Planck and AT&T.

Well, no more. We recently released a tech report on Dedalus, a formal logic language that can serve as a clean foundation for declarative programming going forward.  The Dedalus work is fairly theoretical, but having tackled it we’re in a strong position to define an approachable and appealing language that will let programmers get their work done in distributed environments. That’s the goal of our Bloom language.

The key insight in Dedalus is roughly this:

Time is essential; space is a detail.

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It’s official: the name of the programming language for the BOOM project is:  Lincoln Bloom.

I didn’t intend to post about Bloom until it was cooked, but two things happened this week that changed my plans.  The first was the completion of a tech report on Dedalus, our new logic language that forms the foundation of Bloom.  The second was more of a surprise: Technology Review decided to run an article on our work, and Bloom was the natural way to talk about it.

More soon on our initial Dedalus results.

Papers are being solicited for the ACM’s new symposium on cloud computing (SOCC) — and they’re due pretty soon, January 15. Both research and industrial papers are welcome. The folks involved (present company excepted) are really strong, and we expect to have some very interesting invited speakers as well. Interesting enough to entice folks to Indianapolis!

The best parts of these smaller symposia are the give-and-take of people in the room talking about each other’s work. So send in your best ideas and plan to come.

More info including the call for papers at


For the last year or so, my team at Berkeley — in collaboration with Yahoo Research — has been undertaking an aggressive experiment in programming.  The challenge is to design a radically easier programming model for infrastructure and applications in the next computing platform: The Cloud.  We call this the Berkeley Orders Of Magnitude (BOOM) project: enabling programmers to develop OOM bigger systems in OOM less code.

To kick this off we built something we call BOOM Analytics [link updated to Eurosys10 final version]: a clone of Hadoop and HDFS built largely in Overlog, a declarative language we developed some years back for network protocols.  BOOM Analytics is just as fast and scalable as Hadoop, but radically simpler in its structure.  As a result we were able — with amazingly little effort — to turbocharge our incarnation of the elephant with features that would be enormous upgrades to Hadoop’s Java codebase.  Two of the fanciest are: Read More »