Where Theory meets Practice

We are a group of distributed systems researchers in the Department of Computer Science at Cornell University, united in the belief that a deeper understanding of the theoretical framework that shapes the design space is essential to building systems that surpass the performance, scalability, and robustness of the state of the art; and, conversely, that the problems that arise when addressing systems’ “pain points” can serve as a compass to guide us to exciting new theory.

We are not afraid to pursue a problem wherever it will lead us—we build systems and prove theorems with equal gusto and flair. Over the years, we have been exploring problems in message logging, scalable web caching, state machine replication, quorum systems, Byzantine fault-tolerance, and Game Theory. We are currently intrigued by the many facets of the apparent tension between ease of programming and performance in distributed systems and databases: by gaining a deeper understand it of it, our aim is to recognize to what degree this tension is fundamental and, when it is not, develop novel ways to resolve it (see Research).

Cornell is one of the intellectual cradles of distributed computing and a special place that embraces researchers who, like us, are attracted by a research style that bridges artificial area divisions in the pursuit of scholarship. We are fortunate to have such travel companions within Cornell’s broader systems group and beyond.

We are grateful for funding from the National Science Foundation as well as awards and gifts from Google, Huawei, Facebook and Amazon.


Jan 6, 2019

Some things never change. Here is Maffeo Barberini, future Pope Urban VIII, defending his Ph.D. in Pisa. Now, look at the guy on the right, falling asleep... (picture and remark courtesy of Ed Wong, with co-credit to the Vatican Museums)

Oct 10, 2018

Natacha presents at OSDI Obladi: Oblivious Serializable Transactions in the Cloud.

Sep 28, 2018

Chunzhi successfully defends his dissertation 'Bringing Modular Concurrency Control to the Next Level' at UT Austin. Congratulations Chunzhi!

Sep 5, 2018

Youer receives a one year fellowship from IC3 for her work on unveiling the deep connections between Nakamoto's consensus and traditonal distributed consensus protocols.

Aug 17, 2018

Lorenzo lectures at SATIS '18: The 1st ACM SIGOPS Summer School on Advanced Topics in Systems in Tromsø, Norway.

Aug 12, 2018

Lorenzo lectures and Natacha is a panelist at The Cornell, Maryland, Max Planck Pre-Doctoral Research School in Saarbruecken, Germany. The full Cornell contingent: Drew, Lorenzo, Nate, Tony, Natacha, and Sammy.

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