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.


Nov 9, 2020

Cong successfully defends his dissertation 'Building a Scalable Shared Log'. Congratulations!

Nov 5, 2020

Natacha wins the SIGOPS Dennis M. Ritchie Doctoral Dissertation Award for her dissertation 'A Client-Centric Approach to Transactional Datastores' .

Nov 4, 2020

Yunhao wins the Jay Lepreau Best Paper Award at OSDI for his paper 'Byzantine Ordered Consensus without Byzantine Oligarchy' .

May 28, 2020

Sowmya, Florian and Yunhao win the CS department distinguished TA award for their contributions to CS4410 Operating Systems.

Feb 25, 2020

Cong presents Scalog at NSDI Scalog: Seamless Reconfiguration and Total Order in a Scalable Shared Log

Dec 15, 2019

Natacha successfully defends her dissertation. She will be an assistant professor at UC Berkeley starting at 2020 Fall. Congratulations Natacha!

Sep 10, 2019

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

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.

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