"From EDA to NDA: Treating Networks like Hardware Circuits" Lecture by George Varghese

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WHO: George Varghese, Ph.D., Principal Researcher and Partner at Microsoft Research 

WHEN & WHERE: Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016 @ 11 AM, Klaus 1116-West 

PRESENTED BY: School of Computer Science 



Surveys reveal that network outages are prevalent, and outages take hours to resolve, resulting in significant lost revenue. Many bugs are caused by errors in configuration files which are programmed using arcane, low-level languages, akin to machine code. Further, mistakes are often hunted down using rudimentary tools such as Ping and Traceroute. We suggest fresh approaches based on verification and synthesis. After briefly describing our earlier results on scalably verifying that the data plane of a network meets reachability specifications, I describe recent work on verifying the control plane that builds the data plane. This can, for instance, allow us detect latent bugs in BGP routing configurations. Unlike earlier work by Griffin- Wilfong, and Gao-Rexford we focus on automated verification of routing protocols. I will then describe work we have done in synthesis. I will set the stage by describing a reconfigurable router architecture called RMT and an emerging language for programming routers called P4 (that promises to extend the boundaries of Software Designed Networks). I will then describe two synthesis efforts for flexible routers, one akin to register allocation (table layout) and one akin to code generation (packet transactions). I will focus especially on code generation and show that the all-or-nothing compilation required for wire-speed forwarding requires adapting standard compiler techniques. These results suggest that concepts from Electronic Design Automation (EDA) can be leveraged to create what might be termed Network Design Automation (NDA). I end by briefly exploring this vision. This is joint work with collaborators at CMU, MSR, MIT, Stanford, and University of Washington. 


George Varghese received his Ph.D. in 1992 from MIT. From 1993-1999, he was a professor at Washington University, and at UCSD from 1999 to 2013. He was the Distinguished Visitor in the computer science department at Stanford University from 2010-2011. He joined Microsoft Research in 2012. 

His book "Network Algorithmics" was published in December 2004 by Morgan-Kaufman. In May 2004, he co-founded NetSift, which was acquired by Cisco Systems in 2005. With colleagues, he has won best paper awards at SIGCOMM (2014), ANCS (2013), OSDI (2008), PODC (1996), and the IETF Applied Networking Prize (2013). He won the Kobayashi Award and the SIGCOMM Lifetime Award, both in 2014, and the IIT Bombay Distinguished Alumni Award in 2015.



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  • Created By:Birney Robert
  • Created:01/08/2016
  • Modified By:Fletcher Moore
  • Modified:04/13/2017