18-843: Systems of Active Components
18-843 will be an advanced graduate course that targets the development
of research directions in "systems of active components".
With increasing transistor densities and the proliferation of low-cost,
low-power processing elements, many researchers (and advanced development
people in industry) are exploring programmability and increased functionality
in various system components.
The term "Active Component" is a generalization of various
research notions being explored: active networks, active disks, intelligent
network interface cards, intelligent RAM, etc.
This course will explore all of these areas and will consider issues
(e.g., security, reliability, programmability) that are common to all of them.
18-843 will combine two major activities:
Critical evaluation and discussion of related work.
This will include student presentations, student leadership of and
participation in discussions, and student-written surveys/reviews.
A series of student-defined, student-executed, inter-related projects
in areas that explore the design and use of active components.
18-843 will focus mainly on networking- and storage-oriented systems and
the relocation of functionality (statically or dynamically) amongst "Active"
Related work examined will include research from distributed systems,
mobile code systems, function migration, embedded systems, replication,
security, protection, operating systems, networking,
transactions, and application systems.
The projects can be done in groups of varying size (there is a lot of
flexibility here). The key is that each person involved in a project
should have an identifiable aspect that they "own".
Also, an explicit goal of this course is for the projects to build on
and contribute to each other.
This means that sharing of infrastructure is desirable.
Suggestions for project topics will be provided by the staff, but
you are free to make your own proposal for a project. Projects
may overlap with the research for your Masters/PhD thesis research (if
said research is in the area of active component systems and your advisor does
- Class meets once a week to discuss related work:
- Before coming to class, all students will have read the 2-4 selected
papers on the chosen topic of the week.
- One student gives a 20-30 minute presentation on the topic
(not the papers) as it relates to Systems of Active Components.
- The rest of the class meeting is devoted to discussion of the
topic and associated ideas.
- After class, the presenter writes up a summary of the papers and
discussion, collecting the papers' concepts and the class's thoughts
- A second student, the assigned reviewer, will take notes on the
discussion during class and provide feedback on the presentation and
the written summary.
- The presenter iterates the write-up and fixes presentation problems.
- Class meets once a week to discuss project ideas, progress, and
shared infrastructure development:
- Students will present their research ideas, generating discussion
and prompting peer feedback.
- Early in the term, this will largely consist of brain-storming about
projects and infrastructure.
- As term goes on, this will shift towards sharing of early results,
describing infrastructure, and giving feedback to each other.
- Students are required to write several pieces of text:
- One-page time-lines and progress reports.
- A 5-page (or so) related work summary of papers and discussion.
- A 10-page research paper summarizing the project.
- Participation in class
- Quality of in-class related work presentation
- Quality of related work summary
- Quality of feedback given to peers
- Quality of in-class project proposal presentation
- Quality of time-line and progress reports
- Quality of project write-up
This course will start very fast -- it will assume that the students have:
The prereqs, therefore, are demonstration of all of these things.
One way to demonstrate this is by prior involvement in courses that teach or
use them all (e.g., 18-849a ).
The other approach consists of enumerating how each of the above is
- broad and deep backgrounds in computer systems
- pre-existing experience with critical evaluation of research papers
- pre-existing experience with working on research projects in a
- a strong desire to push very hard on research projects in active
component systems (for this one, we'll just take your word ;)).
This course is intended mainly for research-track computer systems graduate
students further along in the graduate program will be given priority over
newer students. Also, to maintain the intended discussion-oriented style,
the class size will be limited even though high demand is expected.
Therefore, no one will be admitted without permission of instructor.
If you wish to be a part of the course, please fill out a form
at the ECE graduate office (HH/1115) once registration starts.