"We're moving," says Professor Theophilus "Theo" A. Benson of Brown University's Department of Computer Science, "into a new generation of software-defined infrastructure that incorporates virtualized network functions, 5th-generation cellular networks and advanced wireless communication technologies, and edge computing. Software-defined networking, or SDN, is a key enabling technology facilitating that transition. It's going to play a crucial role, but SDNs are prone to software design and implementation errors that can cause network failures and other catastrophic consequences. The networking research community needs key techniques and tools to maintain highly available and resilient networks."
Earlier this month, Theo won a National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Award that will support creating those tools. CAREER Awards are given in support of outstanding junior faculty teacher-scholars who excel at research, education, and integration of the two within the context of an organizational mission, and Theo joins multiple previous Brown CS winners of the award, including (most recently) Stefanie Tellex, Jeff Huang, and Rodrigo Fonseca.
Theo's research will address the needs of SDN by introducing a novel paradigm that advocates overcoming software "bugs" by transforming the bug-triggering inputs into "safe" inputs. To support this paradigm, the project will develop designs, abstractions and algorithms to identify, isolate, and transform the triggering inputs into safe inputs in a systematic and principled manner.
The project will examine several research thrusts to enable practical bug-tolerant networks, including:
- introducing frameworks and designs that guarantee bug recovery and forward progress by transforming bug-triggering inputs into different, but equivalent inputs;
- designing an abstraction and cross-layer network transactions that provide atomicity and consistency during and after recovery from triggered events;
- developing algorithms that maximize the efficiency of the proposed frameworks by statically analyzing control and data plane source code, and modeling protocol interactions; and
- generalizing techniques beyond current SDN paradigms (e.g., OpenFlow) to emerging and future paradigms with stateful data planes and expressive interfaces (e.g., P4).
For more information, click the link that follows to contact Brown CS Communication Outreach Specialist Jesse C. Polhemus.