Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Major breakthrough improves software reliability and security

03.11.2011
Computer scientists at Columbia Engineering develop a system that makes multithreaded programs run more stably and efficiently

Anyone who uses multithreaded computer programs -- and that's all of us, as these are the programs that power nearly all software applications including Office, Windows, MacOS, and Google Chrome Browser, and web services like Google Search, Microsoft Bing, and iCloud, -- knows well the frustration of computer crashes, bugs, and other aggravating problems.

The most widely used method to harness the power we require from multicore processors, multithreaded programs can be difficult for programmers to get right and they often contain elusive bugs called races. Data races can cause very serious problems, like the software bug that set off the 2003 power blackout in the Northeast. Now there is a new system that will combat this problem.

Peregrine, a new software system developed by a team of researchers at Columbia Engineering School, led by Assistant Professor of Computer Science Junfeng Yang, will improve the reliability and security of multithreaded programs, benefiting virtually every computer user across the globe. Peregrine can be used by software vendors like Microsoft and Apple and web service providers like Google and Facebook, to provide reliable services to computer users. This new research was published in the 23rd ACM Symposium on Operating Systems Principles, considered to be the most prestigious systems conference held each year, and presented by Yang's graduate student Heming Cui at Cascais, Portugal, on Oct. 26. The paper can be found at http://systems.cs.columbia.edu/archive/pub/2011/10/efficient-deterministic-multithreading-through-schedule-relaxation/.

"Multithreaded programs are becoming more and more critical and pervasive," says Professor Yang."But these programs are nondeterministic, so running them is like tossing a coin or rolling dice -- sometimes we get correct results, and sometimes we get wrong results or the program crashes. Our main finding in developing Peregrine is that we can make threads deterministic in an efficient and stable way: Peregrine can compute a plan for allowing when and where a thread can "change lanes" and can then place barriers between the lanes, allowing threads to change lanes only at fixed locations, following a fixed order. This prevents the random collisions that can occur in a nondeterministic system.

"Once Peregrine computes a good plan without collisions for one group of threads," adds Yang, "it can reuse the plan on subsequent groups to avoid the cost of computing a new plan for each new group. This approach matches our natural tendency to follow familiar routes so we can avoid both potential hazards in unknown routes and efforts to find a new route."

Yang notes that in contrast to many earlier systems that address only resultant problems but not the root cause, Peregrine addresses nondeterminism -- a system that is unpredictable as each input has multiple potential outcomes -- and thus simultaneously addresses all the problems that are caused by nondeterminism.

Peregrine also deals with data races or bugs, unlike most previous efforts that do not provide such fine-grained control over the execution of a program. And it's very fast -- many earlier systems may slow down the execution of a program by up to ten times. Peregrine is also a practical system that works with current hardware and programming languages -- it does not require new hardware or new languages, all of which can take years to develop. It reuses execution plans, whereas some previous work makes a different plan for each group of threads: as Yang points out, "The more plans one makes, the more likely some plans have errors and will lead to collisions."

"Today's software systems are large, complex, and plagued with errors, some of which have caused critical system failures and exploits," adds Yang. "My research is focused on creating effective tools to improve the reliability and security of real software systems. I'm excited about this area because it has the potential to make the cyberspace a better place and benefit every government, business, and individual who uses computers."

###
Yang's research was funded by the National Science Foundation, including an NSF CAREER award, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), and the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA).

Columbia Engineering

Columbia University's Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, founded in 1864, offers programs in nine departments to both undergraduate and graduate students. With facilities specifically designed and equipped to meet the laboratory and research needs of faculty and students, Columbia Engineering is home to NSF-NIH funded centers in genomic science, molecular nanostructures, materials science, and energy, as well as one of the world's leading programs in financial engineering. These interdisciplinary centers are leading the way in their respective fields while individual groups of engineers and scientists collaborate to solve some of modern society's more difficult challenges. http://www.engineering.columbia.edu/

Holly Evarts | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.columbia.edu

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Researchers achieve HD video streaming at 10,000 times lower power
20.04.2018 | University of Washington

nachricht An AI that makes road maps from aerial images
18.04.2018 | Massachusetts Institute of Technology, CSAIL

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Spider silk key to new bone-fixing composite

University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.

Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.

Im Focus: Writing and deleting magnets with lasers

Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.

Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...

Im Focus: Gamma-ray flashes from plasma filaments

Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.

The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...

Im Focus: Basel researchers succeed in cultivating cartilage from stem cells

Stable joint cartilage can be produced from adult stem cells originating from bone marrow. This is made possible by inducing specific molecular processes occurring during embryonic cartilage formation, as researchers from the University and University Hospital of Basel report in the scientific journal PNAS.

Certain mesenchymal stem/stromal cells from the bone marrow of adults are considered extremely promising for skeletal tissue regeneration. These adult stem...

Im Focus: Like a wedge in a hinge

Researchers lay groundwork to tailor drugs for new targets in cancer therapy

In the fight against cancer, scientists are developing new drugs to hit tumor cells at so far unused weak points. Such a “sore spot” is the protein complex...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

IWOLIA: A conference bringing together German Industrie 4.0 and French Industrie du Futur

09.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

One step closer to reality

20.04.2018 | Life Sciences

The dark side of cichlid fish: from cannibal to caregiver

20.04.2018 | Life Sciences

Diamond-like carbon is formed differently to what was believed -- machine learning enables development of new model

19.04.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>