We meet weekly to discuss papers from A* system conferences: OSDI, SOSP, Eurosys, FAST, ATC, ASPLOS, POPL, PLDI, NSDI, SIGCOMM, MobiSys, and MobiCom.


  • When: Fridays 1-2:30pm IST
  • Where: SIT 113 or virtually in MS Teams.

If you are having trouble joining the Team from the link above, please fill this form, and we will add you. Joining Teams will also let you access any previous talk recordings, and you will get notified about the upcoming talks. Otherwise, you may directly join the meeting by clicking on the “Talk link” in the “Schedule” below.

How can I give a talk?

  • Easiest is to send a PR to this link.
  • Or you can let Abhilash know when you’d like to give a talk.

Honor code

If you will be unable to give the talk in your committed slot due to unforeseen emergency, let Abhilash or Sorav know ASAP.


  • [OSDI 2020] Virtual Consensus in Delos
    When: 1-2:30 pm, 27 May 2022 Speaker: Prashant Agrawal Talk link
    Abstract Consensus-based replicated systems are complex, monolithic, and difficult to upgrade once deployed. As a result, deployed systems do not benefit from innovative research, and new consensus protocols rarely reach production. We propose virtualizing consensus by virtualizing the shared log API, allowing services to change consensus protocols without downtime. Virtualization splits the logic of consensus into the VirtualLog, a generic and reusable reconfiguration layer; and pluggable ordering protocols called Loglets. Loglets are simple, since they do not need to support reconfiguration or leader election; diverse, consisting of different protocols, codebases, and even deployment modes; and composable, via RAID-like stacking and striping. We describe a production database called Delos1 which leverages virtual consensus for rapid, incremental development and deployment. Delos reached production within 8 months, and 4 months later upgraded its consensus protocol without downtime for a 10X latency improvement. Delos can dynamically change its performance properties by changing consensus protocols: we can scale throughput by up to 10X by switching to a disaggregated Loglet, and double the failure threshold of an instance without sacrificing throughput via a striped Loglet.

  • [PLDI 2020] Predictable Accelerator Design with Time-Sensitive Affine Types
    When: 1-2:30 pm, 20 May 2022 Speaker: Madhukar Yerraguntla Talk slides Talk recording
    Abstract Field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) provide an opportunity to co-design applications with hardware accelerators, yet they remain difficult to program. High-level synthesis (HLS) tools promise to raise the level of abstraction by compiling C or C++ to accelerator designs. Repurposing legacy software languages, however, requires complex heuristics to map imperative code onto hardware structures. We find that the black-box heuristics in HLS can be unpredictable: changing parameters in the program that should improve performance can counterintuitively yield slower and larger designs. This paper proposes a type system that restricts HLS to programs that can predictably compile to hardware accelerators. The key idea is to model consumable hardware resources with a time-sensitive affine type system that prevents simultaneous uses of the same hardware structure. We implement the type system in Dahlia, a language that compiles to HLS C++, and show that it can reduce the size of HLS parameter spaces while accepting Pareto-optimal designs.

  • [ASPLOS 2020] Learning-based Memory Allocation for C++ Server Workloads
    When: 1-2:30 pm, 13 May 2022 Speaker: Ashish Panwar Talk slides Talk recording
    Abstract Modern C++ servers have memory footprints that vary widely over time, causing persistent heap fragmentation of up to 2x from long-lived objects allocated during peak memory usage. This fragmentation is exacerbated by the use of huge (2MB) pages, a requirement for high performance on large heap sizes. Reducing fragmentation automatically is challenging because C++ memory managers cannot move objects. This paper presents a new approach to huge page fragmentation. It combines modern machine learning techniques with a novel memory manager (LLAMA) that manages the heap based on object lifetimes and huge pages (divided into blocks and lines). A neural network-based language model predicts lifetime classes using symbolized calling contexts. The model learns context-sensitive per-allocation site lifetimes from previous runs, generalizes over different binary versions, and extrapolates from samples to unobserved calling contexts. Instead of size classes, LLAMA's heap is organized by lifetime classes that are dynamically adjusted based on observed behavior at a block granularity. LLAMA reduces memory fragmentation by up to 78% while only using huge pages on several production servers. We address ML-specific questions such as tolerating mispredictions and amortizing expensive predictions across application execution. Although our results focus on memory allocation, the questions we identify apply to other system-level problems with strict latency and resource requirements where machine learning could be applied.

  • [OSDI 2020] Theseus: an Experiment in Operating System Structure and State Management
    When: 1-2:30 pm, 06 May 2022 Speaker: Indrajit Banerjee Talk slides Talk recording
    Abstract This paper describes an operating system (OS) called Theseus. Theseus is the result of multi-year experimentation to redesign and improve OS modularity by reducing the states one component holds for another, and to leverage a safe programming language, namely Rust, to shift as many OS responsibilities as possible to the compiler. Theseus embodies two primary contributions. First, an OS structure in which many tiny components with clearly-defined, runtime-persistent bounds interact without holding states for each other. Second, an intralingual approach that realizes the OS itself using language-level mechanisms such that the compiler can enforce invariants about OS semantics. Theseus's structure, intralingual design, and state management realize live evolution and fault recovery for core OS components in ways beyond that of existing works.

  • [PLDI 2018] iReplayer: In-situ and Identical Record-and-Replay for Multithreaded Applications
    When: 1-2:30 pm, 29 Apr 2022 Speaker: Abhilash Jindal Talk slides Talk recording
    Abstract Reproducing executions of multithreaded programs is very challenging due to many intrinsic and external non-deterministic factors. Existing RnR systems achieve significant progress in terms of performance overhead, but none targets the in-situ setting, in which replay occurs within the same process as the recording process. Also, most existing work cannot achieve identical replay, which may prevent the reproduction of some errors. This paper presents iReplayer, which aims to identically replay multithreaded programs in the original process (under the "in-situ" setting). The novel in-situ and identical replay of iReplayer makes it more likely to reproduce errors, and allows it to directly employ debugging mechanisms (e.g. watchpoints) to aid failure diagnosis. Currently, iReplayer only incurs 3% performance overhead on average, which allows it to be always enabled in the production environment. iReplayer enables a range of possibilities, and this paper presents three examples: two automatic tools for detecting buffer overflows and use-after-free bugs, and one interactive debugging tool that is integrated with GDB.

  • [SOSP 2017] Optimizing Big-Data Queries Using Program Synthesis
    When: 1-2:30 pm, 22 Apr 2022 Speaker: Aditya Senthilnathan Talk slides Talk recording
    Abstract Classical query optimization relies on a predefined set of rewrite rules to re-order and substitute SQL operators at a logical level. This paper proposes Blitz, a system that can synthesize efficient query-specific operators using automated program reasoning. Blitz uses static analysis to identify sub-queries as potential targets for optimization. For each sub-query, it constructs a template that defines a large space of possible operator implementations, all restricted to have linear time and space complexity. Blitz then employs program synthesis to instantiate the template and obtain a data-parallel operator implementation that is functionally equivalent to the original sub-query up to a bound on the input size. Program synthesis is an undecidable problem in general and often difficult to scale, even for bounded inputs. Blitz therefore uses a series of analyses to judiciously use program synthesis and incrementally construct complex operators. We integrated Blitz with existing big-data query languages by embedding the synthesized operators back into the query as User Defined Operators. We evaluated Blitz on several production queries from Microsoft running on two state-of-the-art query engines: SparkSQL as well as Scope, the big-data engine of Microsoft. Blitz produces correct optimizations despite the synthesis being bounded. The resulting queries have much more succinct query plans and demonstrate significant performance improvements on both big-data systems (1.3x --- 4.7x).

  • [ASPLOS 2022] Understanding and Exploiting Optimal Function Inlining
    When: 1-2:30 pm, 15 Apr 2022 Speaker: Sorav Bansal Talk slides Talk recording
    Abstract Inlining is a core transformation in optimizing compilers. It replaces a function call (call site) with the body of the called function (callee). It helps reduce function call overhead and binary size, and more importantly, enables other optimizations. The problem of inlining has been extensively studied, but it is far from being solved; predicting which inlining decisions are beneficial is nontrivial due to interactions with the rest of the compiler pipeline. Previous work has mainly focused on designing heuristics for better inlining decisions and has not investigated optimal inlining, i.e., exhaustively finding the optimal inlining decisions. Optimal inlining is necessary for identifying and exploiting missed opportunities and evaluating the state of the art. This paper fills this gap through an extensive empirical analysis of optimal inlining using the SPEC2017 benchmark suite. Our novel formulation drastically reduces the inlining search space size (from 2^349 down to 2^25) and allows us to exhaustively evaluate all inlining choices on 1,135 SPEC2017 files. We show a significant gap between the state-of-the-art strategy in LLVM and optimal inlining when optimizing for binary size, an important, deterministic metric independent of workload (in contrast to performance, another important metric). Inspired by our analysis, we introduce a simple, effective autotuning strategy for inlining that outperforms the state of the art by 7% on average (and up to 28%) on SPEC2017, 15% on the source code of LLVM itself, and 10% on the source code of SQLite. This work highlights the importance of exploring optimal inlining by providing new, actionable insight and an effective autotuning strategy that is of practical utility.