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Research For Practice: Tracing and Debugging Distributed Systems; Programming By Examples

By Peter Bailis, Peter Alvaro, Sumit Gulwani

Communications of the ACM, Vol. 60 No. 7, Pages 46-49

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This installment of Research for Practice covers two exciting topics in distributed systems and programming methodology. First, Peter Alvaro takes us on a tour of recent techniques for debugging some of the largest and most complex systems in the world: modern distributed systems and service-oriented architectures. The techniques Alvaro surveys can shed light and order amid the chaos of distributed call graphs. Second, Sumit Gulwani illustrates how to program without explicitly writing programs, instead synthesizing programs from examples! The techniques Gulwani presents allow systems to "learn" a program representation from illustrative examples, allowing nonprogrammer users to create increasingly nontrivial functions such as spreadsheet macros. Both of these selections are well in line with RfP's goal of accessible, practical research; in fact, both contributors have successfully transferred their own research in each area to production, at Netflix and as part of Microsoft Excel. Readers may also find a use case.

As always, our goal in this column is to allow our readers to become experts in the latest topics in computer science research in a weekend afternoon's worth of reading. To facilitate this process, we have provided open access to the ACM Digital Library for the relevant citations from these selections so you can enjoy these research results in full. Please enjoy!


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