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.


Aug 9, 2021

This has been a banner year for our group at SOSP: we contributed to three papers! It looks like we really earned all that ice cream...

Florian joined forces with Matt and Yunhao (not to mention Lorenzo and Natacha, now at Berkeley) to produce 'Basil: Breaking up BFT with ACID (transactions)';

Sowmya and Matt were first joint authors in a collaboration with researchers at MSR that produced 'PRISM: Rethinking the RDMA Interface for Distributed Systems';

and Matt (he again!) co-authored 'Regular Sequential Serializability and Regular Sequential Consistency' with friends at Princeton.

May 14, 2021

Nothing like a ridiculous amount of Cornell ice cream after an SOSP push. And it is nice to finally be together!

Apr 27, 2021

Natacha wins honorable mention for the SIGMOD Jim Gray Doctoral Dissertation Award for her dissertation 'A Client-Centric Approach to Transactional Datastores' . We now want Natacha to win an Oscar--we won't settle for anything less.

Apr 22, 2021

Yunhao receives the 2021 Facebook fellowship! This year, 26 are selected from 2,163 world-wide candidates according to the announcement.

Nov 9, 2020

Cong successfully defends his dissertation 'Building a Scalable Shared Log'. Here is Cong writing his name on the SysLab Wall of Fame with Robbert and Lorenzo trying to get some air time too and here is Dr. Ding after doing the deed Congratulations!

Nov 5, 2020

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

Nov 4, 2020

Yunhao and Lorenzo win the Jay Lepreau Best Paper Award at OSDI for their paper 'Byzantine Ordered Consensus without Byzantine Oligarchy', joint work with colleguaes at MSR . Here is Yunhao giving the talk at OSDI:

May 28, 2020

Sowmya, Florian and Yunhao win the CS department distinguished TA award for their contributions while TAing CS4410, our undergraduate OS class.

Feb 25, 2020

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

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