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Turing Award Goes To Distributed Computing Wrangler Leslie Lamport 40

Posted by Soulskill
from the and-the-alan-goes-to dept.
alphadogg writes "Leslie Lamport, a Microsoft Research principal, has been named the winner of the 2013 ACM A.M. Turing Award, frequently called the 'Nobel Prize in Computing.' The computer scientist was recognized by the Association for Computing Machinery for 'imposing clear, well-defined coherence on the seemingly chaotic behavior of distributed computing systems, in which several autonomous computers communicate with each other by passing messages.' His algorithms, models and verification systems have enabled distributed computer systems to play the key roles they're used in throughout the data center, security and cloud computing landscapes."
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Turing Award Goes To Distributed Computing Wrangler Leslie Lamport

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  • by raymorris (2726007) on Wednesday March 19, 2014 @02:16AM (#46522465)

    Your comment got me reading his work. As a time geek who has been going around bitching about wildly out-of-sync clocks in clusters and other tightly coupled networks, his ideas interest me.

    For anyone else who is mildly curious, here's a very short summary of his key idea, as I understand it from a brief reading:

    In a cluster, you sometimes need to know which of two events should be considered "first". For example, if one process writes some state data and another process reads it, you need to know whether the read comes first and should get the old value, or if the write comes first, so the read gets the new value.

    System clocks aren't perfectly synchronized. With multi-Ghz processors, events can happen so fast that the system timestamp isn't accurate or precise enough to identify which request was sent first.

    To solve the problem of knowing which request is considered first, you can use a counter. Each request includes it's counter value - request #1, request #2, etc. If the receiving system keeps track of the highest counter and overwrites any "past" values with its own current "now" counter, it can put requests into a defined order.

  • Re: Plus (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 19, 2014 @05:31AM (#46522899)

    Woah, there. He wrote a good layer over a good typesetting system. Awesome as LaTeX is, please don't gloss over the separate awesemess of TeX.

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