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What we talk about when we talk about networking

Keith Winstein (Stanford)

Event Details

Friday, October 29, 2021
2-3 p.m.

Abstract: Network protocols, and the applications they support, sometimes treat each other as strangers. By shaking things up a bit—expressing network systems as compositions of small, pure functions and making their dataflow a first-class consideration—we can achieve friendlier couplings between different parts of the stack, which can help performance, robustness, and understandability. This approach has proved beneficial in several contexts: network algorithms learned "in situ," feeding data from deployment back into training; real-time video conferencing, especially for musicians and actors during the pandemic; image compression in a distributed network filesystem; and a serverless computing framework that lets software burst briefly to 10,000 cores. In ongoing work, we are building a functional operating system that ensures that each process's output is a deterministic function of its content-addressed dependencies. If such an OS can support a broad range of computational tasks with visibility into their dataflow, we envision a new service model for cloud computing: "computation as a service."

Bio: Keith Winstein is an assistant professor of computer science and, by courtesy, of electrical engineering at Stanford University. His research group creates new kinds of networked systems by rethinking abstractions around communication, compression, and computing. Some of his group’s research has found broader use, including the Mosh (mobile shell) tool, the Puffer video-streaming site, the Lepton compression tool, and the Mahimahi network emulators. He has received the SIGCOMM Rising Star Award, the Sloan Research Fellowship, the NSF CAREER Award, the Usenix NSDI Community Award (2020, 2017), the Usenix ATC Best Paper Award, and the Applied Networking Research Prize. Winstein previously served as a staff reporter at The Wall Street Journal and worked at Ksplice, a startup company (now part of Oracle) where he was the vice president of product management and business development and also cleaned the bathroom. He did his undergraduate and graduate work at MIT.