At this year’s EuroSys conference held in Rome, Italy, a paper by Brown CS faculty member Malte Schwarzkopf was recognized with a 2023 Test of Time award. The paper, “Omega: flexible, scalable schedulers for large computer clusters,” was co-authored by Malte (as the lead author), Andy Konwinski of UC Berkeley, and Michael Abd-El-Malek and John Wilkes of Google. Bestowed annually, the award recognizes one or more papers published at EuroSys ten years before deemed the most influential papers of that conference. A full list of the awardees from the conference is available here.
Malte tells us that Omega allows multiple applications to share the resources of thousands of machines in a datacenter while still respecting all individual needs. As one example, he explains that an application that serves search results to users will prioritize careful placement for the ability to survive failures, while a batch processing task churning through log files will prefer to have as many resources as possible.
“This was a very fun paper to work on. This was, in part, because this first project, which I worked on while interning at Google during my PhD, was my first exposure to large-scale datacenter infrastructure,” Malte says.
Omega’s foundation is the usage of multiple schedulers, components that place applications on machines, to coordinate the assignment of resources from a shared pool. This concept has been rather impactful as all popular cluster management frameworks today (for example, Kubernetes, YARN, Mesos, and others) support multiple schedulers based on the same ideas.
“As a PhD student intern,” Malte says, “I wouldn’t have dreamt that this work would become as popular or have as much impact as it did, but it’s incredibly pleasing to see what difference the right idea in the design of a system can make, and seeing that happen with Omega motivated me to continue working on research.”
This is the second time the Omega paper garnered recognition; it previously received the Best Student Paper Award at EuroSys 2013. While the award back then contemporaneously recognized the paper as a high-quality research work, the test-of-time award attests to its long-lasting impact.
Malte’s current research focuses on building easy-to-use and high-performance systems around new abstractions, drawing off his interests in computer systems, especially distributed systems, operating systems, and privacy-preserving systems. Malte taught CSCI 0300 Fundamentals of Computer Science at Brown in recent years. He leads the ETOS group (Efficient and Trustworthy Operating Systems), which investigates core abstractions for improving the efficiency of practical computer systems, and seeks to build easy-to-use working systems and then release them as open-source software. Malte and the ETOS group are part of the Brown Systems research group, which studies problems in computer systems and security, building practical systems that combine performance, correctness, automation, and other desirable properties.
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