University of Utah
School of Computing

CS7934 -- Computer Systems Seminar (Fall 2007)

Time: Thursday, 12:05 - 13:20, CSL Library

Organization: Anton Burtsev
Helpers: John Carter, Jay Lepreau, John Regehr, and Sneha Kasera


In CS7934 we will read and discuss technical papers from recent or imminent top-tier systems conferences (e.g., SOSP, OSDI, NSDI, SIGCOMM, ...). The specific papers discussed will be chosen based on the interests of the class attendees. On occasion people may present their own research or perhaps a trip report from a major conference. We aim to be informal but substantive.

Here is a course overview document, including a list of suggested papers for presentation and discussion.

You can check out what we did last semester here.

Mailing list

To get on the class mailing list use mailman to subscribe to csl-sem.


Although the course is listed as ``variable credit'', the course is only available for one (1) credit in most circumstances -- if you wish to take the course for more than one credit you will need to get approval from the instructor. Those taking the course for credit must read all of the papers, submit a short summary of each paper prior to class (PDF, Postscript, Latex), participate in each discussion, and facilitate the discussion of at least one paper. We urge students to sign up for one credit if you're going to be attending anyway.


Week Date Topic(s) Facilitator Paper(s)
1 9/6 Virtualization, OS abstractions, verification Anton Burtsev Hype and Virtue, Timothy Roscoe, ETH Zurich; Kevin Elphinstone and Gernot Heiser, National ICT Australia (HotOS'07).
Towards a Practical, Verified Kernel Kevin Elphinstone, Gerwin Klein, Philip Derrin, Timothy Roscoe, Gernot Heiser, National ICT Australia, the University of New South Wales (HotOS'07).
2 9/13 Network management, Rate limiting Pramod Sanaga Cloud Control with Distributed Rate Limiting, Barath Raghavan, Kashi Vishwanath, Sriram Ramabhadran, Kenneth Yocum, Alex Snoeren, UCSD (SIGCOMM '07)
3 9/20 Browser, Web, security, multi-principal OS, abstractions Suman Jana Protection and Communication Abstractions for Web Browsers in MashupOS,Helen J. Wang (Microsoft Research), Xiaofeng Fan (Microsoft Research), Jon Howell (Microsoft Research), and Collin Jackson (Stanford University) (SOSP '07)
3 9/27 Reliability, Testing, Debugging David Johnson Triage: Diagnosing Production Run Failures at the User's Site. Joseph Tucek, Shan Lu, Chengdu Huang, Spiros Xanthos and Yuanyuan Zhou (UIUC). SOSP '07.
4 10/4 Storage Management, Reliability, Performance Peng Li Dynamo: Amazon's Highly Available Key-value Store Guiseppe DeCandia, Deniz Hastorun, Madan Jampani, Gunavardhan Kakulapati, Avinash Lakshman, Alex Pilchin, Swami Sivasubramanian, Peter Vosshall, and Werner Vogels ( SOSP '07
5 10/11 Parallel Architecture, Process Management, Concurrent Programming Anton Burtsev TxLinux: Using and Managing Hardware Transactional Memory in the Operating System Christopher J. Rossbach (UT Austin), Owen S. Hoffman (UT Austin), Donald E. Porter (UT Austin), Hany E. Ramadan (UT Austin), Aditya Bhandari (UT Austin), and Emmett Witchel (UT Austin), SOSP '07
6 10/18 Filesystems, Synchronization, Consistency, I/O Robert Ricci Rethink the Sync Edmund B. Nightingale, Kaushik Veeraraghavan, Peter M. Chen, and Jason Flinn, University of Michigan, OSDI '06
7 10/25 Distributed systems, scalability, transactions Pramod Sanaga Sinfonia: A New Paradigm for Building Scalable Distributed Systems Marcos K. Aguilera(HP Labs), Arif Merchant(HP Labs), Mehul Shah(HP Labs), Alistair Veitch (HP Labs), Christos Karamanolis (VMware), SOSP '07
8 11/1 Device drivers reliability Qingyu Meng Recovering Device Drivers, Michael M. Swift, Muthukaruppan Annamalai, Brian N. Bershad, Henry M. Levy, OSDI'04. Best paper award.
9 11/8 Virtual ISA, virtualization, safe languages Eric Eide LLVM: A Compilation Framework for Lifelong Program Analysis & Transformation, Chris Lattner and Vikram Adve CGO'04, Palo Alto, California, Mar. 2004.
10 11/15 Singularity, hardware vs software isolation Anton Burtsev Deconstructing process isolation, Mark Aiken, Manuel Fahndrich, Chris Hawblitzel, Galen C. Hunt, and James R. Larus, MSPC'06, San Jose, CA, October 2006.
11 11/22 Thanksgiving -- Holiday - No Class
12 11/29 Distributed clock synchronization Pramod Sanaga Robust Synchronization of Software Clocks Across the Internet Darryl Veitch, Satish Babu, Attila Pasztor. pp.219-232, Proc. 2004 ACM SIGCOMM Internet Measurement Conference (IMC'04), Taormina, Italy, 25-27 October, 2004.
13 12/03 Transport protocols Suman Jana Structured streams: a new transport abstraction, Bryan Ford (MIT), SIGCOMM'07.

Potential Papers

See overview handout for specific suggestions. In general, papers from upcoming/recent OSDI, NSDI, SOSP, SIGCOMM, and similar conference proceedings are good sources of papers for discussion.

Add your potential papers here.


Please check SOSP'07 Links Page for all papers currently available online.

Secure Virtual Architecture: A Safe Execution Environment for Commodity Operating Systems John Criswell (University of Illinois), Andrew Lenharth (University of Illinois), Dinakar Dhurjati (DoCoMo Labs USA), and Vikram Adve (University of Illinois)

Information Flow Control For Standard OS Abstractions Maxwell Krohn (MIT), Alex Yip (MIT), Micah Brodsky (MIT), Natan Cliffer (MIT), M. Frans Kaashoek (MIT), Eddie Kohler (UCLA), and Robert Morris (MIT). Security (Security, access control, information flow, labels (we read Asbestos in Fall 2006)

SecVisor: A Tiny Hypervisor to Provide Lifetime Kernel Code Integrity for Commodity OSes. Arvind Seshadri, Mark Luk, Ning Qu, and Adrian Perrig (CMU). Security (preventing code injection attacks, code attestation and integrity (we read Pioneer in Fall 2005)).

Generalized File System Dependencies Christopher Frost (UCLA), Mike Mammarella (UCLA), Eddie Kohler (UCLA), Andrew de los Reyes (Google), Shant Hovsepian (UCLA), Andrew Matsuoka (UT Austin), and Lei Zhang (Google). File systems (generalization of the write before relationship, soft-updates, journaling).

Secure Web Applications via Automatic Partitioning. Stephen Chong, Jed Liu, Andrew C. Myers, Xin Qi, Krishnaprasad Vikram, Lantian Zheng, and Xin Zheng (Cornell).

Sinfonia: a New Paradigm for Building Scalable Distributed Systems. Marcos K. Aguilera (HP Labs), Arif Merchant (HP Labs), Mehul Shah (HP Labs), Alistair Veitch (HP Labs), and Christos Karamanolis (VMWare).

FAST'07 (

Disk Failures in the Real World: What Does an MTTF of 1,000,000 Hours Mean to You? Bianca Schroeder and Garth A. Gibson, Carnegie Mellon University. Storage.

SIGCOMM (Live broadcast and Archives)

Structured Streams: a New Transport Abstraction, Bryan Ford (MIT).

Potential reading topics
  • Scalability (if we read about transactional memory, and believe in multicores): K42 (EuroSys'06), SGI Scalable Linux.
  • Access control in OS (we read labels model (Asbestos), lets read alternative approaches): L4se, Coyotos. Interesting issue: how to build trusted window systems.
  • Access control in distributed systems: anonymity (Tor).
  • Automated debugging: delta debugging.
  • OS experiences: critics of the Hurd.