PDL News


December 2008
Parallel NFS now approved for RFC by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)

Parallel NFS (pNFS) is a part of the NFS v4.1 standard that allows clients to access storage devices directly and in parallel. The pNFS architecture eliminates the scalability and performance issues associated with NFS servers in deployment today. This is achieved by the separation of data and metadata, and moving the metadata server out of the data path. It allows delegation of layout maps (revocable callbacks) of a file's location from server to client so that clients can send requests to storage devices (currently other NFS servers, Object Storage Devices or SCSI block storage, and backend storage protocols are extensible) without intervention on the part of the server. pNFS brings together the benefits of parallel I/O with the benefits of the ubiquitous standard for network file systems (NFS). This allows users to experience increased performance and scalability in their storage infrastructure with the added assurance that their investment is safe and their ability to choose best-of-breed solutions remains intact.

The pNFS effort was launched by Garth Gibson and Panasas with help from Los Alamos National Lab in December 2003 based on Panasas' PanFS file system for object storage, the technology spin off of CMU's Network Attached Secure Disks project (95-99) [ASPLOS98]. It was immediately supported by EMC, NetApp and Sun, and then by IBM and a few others. Reference implementations have been built by companies such as EMC, NetApp Sun, IBM, and Panasas, and a significant team is working on open source implementations for Linux under the guidance of the Linux maintainers for NFS.

December 2008
Satya's Groundbreaking AFS paper recognized by SIGOPS
Carnegie Mellon researchers were recognized as being among the most important contributions in operating systems research. The recognition, called the SIGOPS Hall of Fame Award, is announced annually at one of the two major symposia in OS research, either SOSP or OSDI, to the most influential peer-reviewed research papers that appeared at least ten years ago.

This year, Satya's seminal paper on "AFS: Scale and performance in a distributed file system" by John Howard, Michael Kazar, Sherri Kazar, David Nichols, M. Satyanarayanan, Robert Sidebotham, and Michael West received the award.
-- from Peter Lee’s CS Diary blog -

November 2008

Carlos Guestrin to Hold Finmeccanica Chair

Carlos Guestrin, assistant professor of computer science and machine learning, has been appointed the Finmeccanica Chair in Computer Science for 2009-2011.
Named by Popular Science to its 2008 “Brilliant 10” list, Guestrin’s long-term research interest is developing efficient algorithms and methods for designing, analyzing and controlling complex real-world systems. His Cascades algorithm is a powerful tool for gathering information with the least amount of effort, whether it is determining the number and placement of sensors in wireless networks or which blogs to read to get news as quickly as possible.
Endowed by the Italian conglomerate Finmeccanica in 1989, the chair is awarded to outstanding young faculty members. Previous winners include Guy Blelloch, Manuela Veloso, Hui Zhang and Srinivasan Seshan.
-- Carnegie Mellon University News Release, Nov. 21, 2008

November 2008
Lorrie Cranor published in Scientific American

Scientific American recently published an article by Lorrie Cranor, associate professor in the Institute for Software Research and the Engineering & Public Policy Department, titled "Can Phishing be Foiled? Understanding the human factors that make people vulnerable to online criminals can improve both security training and technology." For the full article, visit
-- CMU 8.5x11 News Nov 20, 2008

October 2008
Carlos Guestrin Among Popular Science's "Brilliant 10"

Carlos Guestrin, assistant professor of machine learning and computer science, is the latest Carnegie Mellon faculty member to be named to Popular Science's "Brilliant 10," the magazine's annual list of top young scientists. The Brilliant 10 are featured in the November issue of the magazine, which is on newsstands now.

Dubbed "the Information Wrangler" by the magazine, Guestrin was cited for developing the Cascades algorithm, which obtains the most information with the least amount of effort. The algorithm works regardless of whether you want to determine the optimal number and placement of sensors in a water distribution system or simply the best blogs to read to get news as quickly as possible.
-- CMU 8.5x11 News Oct 16, 2008

September 2008
Perspectives Developed to Thwart Internet Eavesdropping

The growth of shared Wi-Fi and other wireless computer networks has increased the risk of eavesdropping on Internet communications, but researchers at the School of Computer Science and College of Engineering have devised a low-cost system that can thwart these "Man-in-the-Middle" attacks.
The researchers - David Andersen, assistant professor of computer science, Adrian Perrig, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering and public policy, and Dan Wendlandt, a Ph.D. student in computer science - have incorporated Perspectives into an extension for the popular Mozilla Firefox v3 browser than can be downloaded free of charge at
"Perspectives provides an additional level of safety to browse the Internet," Perrig said. "To the security conscious user, that is a significant comfort."
-- CMU 8.5x11 News Sept 4, 2008

August 2008
Carnegie Mellon's Greg Ganger Earns HP Innovation Research Award

PITTSBURGH—Carnegie Mellon University's Greg Ganger was one of 33 recipients worldwide to receive a 2008 HP Innovation Research Award, which is designed to encourage open collaboration with HP labs resulting in mutually beneficial, high-impact research.

Ganger, a professor of electrical and computer engineering and director of the Parallel Data Lab at Carnegie Mellon, will collaborate with HP Labs on a research initiative focused on data storage infrastructure issues. Ganger, author of the winning proposal, titled "Toward Scalable Self-Storage," will lead the collaboration.

HP reviewed more than 450 proposals from individuals at 200 universities in 28 countries on a range of topics within the five principal research themes at HP Labs - intelligent infrastructure, sustainability, information explosion, dynamic cloud services and content transformation. A key element of each award will be on-campus support for one graduate student researcher.

"This award recognizes the innovative and cutting-edge research that Greg Ganger and his entire team are involved with," said Pradeep K. Khosla, dean of Carnegie Mellon's College of Engineering. "We salute their enthusiasm and passion for finding solutions to tomorrow's storage challenges."

Ganger said the award will serve to strengthen and deepen the long-standing relationship between HP Labs' scalable storage researchers and Carnegie Mellon's Parallel Data Lab. "We will be collaborating on our common interests in scalable, self-managing storage to tackle key challenges, including performance insulation between tenants sharing a common infrastructure and tenants with different requirements," Ganger said.

The research also will generate a prototype that can be tested in both commercial and academic venues.
"Around the world, HP partners with the best and brightest in the industry and academia to drive open innovation and set the agenda for breakthrough technologies that are designed to change the world," said Prith Banerjee, senior vice president of research at HP and director of HP Labs. "HP Labs' selection of Carnegie Mellon's Greg Ganger for a 2008 Innovation Award demonstrates outstanding achievement and will help accelerate HP Labs' global research agenda in pursuit of scientific breakthroughs," he added.
More details about the HP Labs Innovation Research Program and worldwide award recipients are available at
-- CMU Press Release Aug 21, 2008

July 2008
Jimeng Sun Runner-up for Best SIGKDD Dissertation Award

Dr. Jimeng Sun (Ph.D. CMU-CSD 2007), [/], attracted the runner-up award for the best SIGKDD dissertation! ACM SIGKDD is the premier community for data mining research. Jimeng's dissertation is on tensor and stream mining, proposing novel and efficient methods to handle streams of numerical data, as well as streams of graphs. He applied his methods on chlorine monitoring in the drinking water (joint project with Prof. Jeanne VanBriesen of CIT/CMU), on monitoring the self-star data center of PDL/CMU (with Prof. Greg Ganger and his group), and also on monitoring computer traffic (with Prof. Hui Zhang, SCS/CMU) Jimeng will receive a plaque and will be recognized during the award ceremonies at the upcoming ACM SIGKDD Conference in August 24-27. Furthermore, he will present his work during the conference. The ACM SIGKDD conference is the most selective and prestigious data mining conference. Warmest congratulations, Jimeng!

June 2008
Priya Narasimhan Receives Teaching Award

ECE Associate Professor Priya Narasimhan has been presented an award recognizing her teaching excellence by Eta Kappa Nu (Sigma Chapter, Carnegie Mellon). Congratulations Priya!

May 2008
Penguins Fans Get a New View

In the midst of hockey fever comes news that software developed at Carnegie Mellon could offer up new benefits for Pittsburgh Penguins fans in coming seasons. Called the "Yinz Cam," the tool could let spectators watch the game from any vantage point in the new arena on their cell phones. It could even tell them the best times to head for the refreshment line (or yes, even the bathroom line).

"Hockey moves really, really fast, and you want to catch every second of the game," explained Carnegie Mellon Professor Priya Narasimhan. "Even if you have excellent seats right up against the glass, when the action is on the other side of the arena you no longer have the best seats in the house." Narasimhan and her students began working on a solution when they heard the Penguins were looking for ideas for the new arena, which is set to open in the Fall of 2010.

An associate professor of electrical and computer engineering (ECE), Narasimhan made the project part of her capstone course on embedded systems design last semester. With the Yinz Cam, spectators could download a widget onto their cell phones prior to the game. They'd then be able to choose from a variety of camera views. It would also allow them to replay their favorite player scoring a goal, a fight that broke out or any other action that happens on the ice.

Narasimhan said her students' passion for the Pens was her inspiration for the project. "The students are amazing," she said. "And they and I are big fans, so this is a really big deal for them."

Michael Chuang, a Carnegie Mellon Ph.D. student working with Narasimhan, is enjoying the opportunity to combine his interest in sports with his engineering research. "Many times my friends and I prefer watching the game at home instead of paying for nosebleed seats because we get a better view of the game on television," said Chuang. "Now that we're replicating some of that TV and TiVo experience for fans on their cell phones, there's more incentive to go to the games."
-- Carnegie Mellon News

April 2008
Best Paper Award at the SIAM Data Mining 2008 Conference
Hanghang Tong (CMU), Spiros Papadimitriou (IBM; CMU Alumni), Philip Yu (IBM) and Christos Faloutsos (CMU) have received the best paper award for their paper titled "Proximity Tracking on Time-Evolving Bipartite Graphs" at the 2008 SIAM (Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics) Data Mining Conference, one of the top data mining conferences. The work focuses on social networks, and specifically on measuring the proximity of nodes, as the networks change over time. With careful design, the proposed methods achieve up to 2 orders of magnitude faster computation over straightforward competitors. Congratulations, Hanghang, Spiros and Christos!

April 2008
Carlos Guestrin among Office of Naval Research 2008 Young Investigators Awardees

The Young Investigator Program (YIP) aims to attract to naval research those outstanding new faculty members at institutions of higher education. As part of the program, the Office of Naval Research (ONR) grants monetary support to award recipients for research and encourages their promising teaching and research careers. This year's YIP recipients showed exceptional talent in the following naval priority research areas: Command Control Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance. Congratulations to Carlos Guestrin on receiving an award to research "Novel Computational Paradigm for Integration of Uncertain Information in Adversarial Activity Recognition."

January 2008
Evan Hoke a Finalist for CRA Outstanding Undergraduate Award

Congratulations to Evan Hoke who was nominated as a finalist for the Computing Research Association (CRA) Outstanding Undergraduate Award for 2008. The CRA award is extremely competitive and prestigious, with fierce competition from the top undergraduates of all the schools in the nation. Evan has worked on the InteMon and SPIRIT projects. His advisor is Christos Faloutsos.


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