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Towards Full-Stack Adaptivity in Permissioned Blockchain Systems

Boon Thau Loo

Permissioned blockchain systems are an emerging instance of untrustworthy distributed databases. As novel smart contracts, modern hardware, and new cloud platforms arise, future-proof permissioned blockchain systems need to be designed with full-stack adaptivity in mind. At the application level, a future-proof system must adaptively learn the best transaction processing paradigm in order to maximize performance for dynamic workloads, and quickly adapt to new hardware as well as unanticipated workload changes on-the-fly. Likewise, the Byzantine consensus layer must dynamically adjust itself to the workloads, faulty conditions, and network configuration while maintaining compatibility with the transaction processing paradigm. At the infrastructure level, cloud providers must enable cross-layer adaptation, which identifies performance bottlenecks and possible attacks, and determines at runtime the degree of resource disaggregation that best meets application requirements.

This talk presents four preliminary building blocks towards our vision of full-stack adaptivity: (1) FlexChain, a novel permissioned blockchain system that physically disaggregating CPUs, DRAM, and storage devices to process different blockchain workloads efficiently; (2) AdaChain, a learning-based framework that adaptively chooses the best permissioned blockchain architecture to optimize effective throughput for dynamic transaction workloads; (3) Bedrock, a unified platform for Byzantine consensus protocol analysis, implementation, and experimentation; and (4) DeCon, a declarative programming language for implementing, optimizing, and verifying smart contracts deployed on Blockchain systems. We conclude the talk with our ongoing work towards the goal of full-stack adaptivity across transaction processing, consensus protocols, and hardware infrastructure layers.

Bio: Boon Thau Loo is the RCA Professor in the Computer and Information Science (CIS) department at the University of Pennsylvania. He is also the Associate Dean for Graduate Programs, where he oversees all academic and admissions operations for doctoral, master’s and professional programs at the School of Engineering and Applied Science. He received his Ph.D. degree in Computer Science from the University of California at Berkeley in 2006. Prior to his Ph.D., he received his M.S. degree from Stanford University in 2000, and his B.S. degree with highest honors from University of California-Berkeley in 1999. His research focuses on distributed data management systems, Internet-scale query processing, and the application of data-centric techniques and formal methods to the design, analysis and implementation of networked systems. He leads the NetDB@Penn research team, and is also the director of the Distributed Systems Laboratory (DSL), an inter-disciplinary systems research lab bringing together researchers in networking, distributed systems, and security.

Loo is the recipient of the David J. Sakrison Memorial Prize (2006) for the most outstanding dissertation research in the Department of EECS at University of California-Berkeley, the ACM SIGMOD Dissertation Award (2007), NSF CAREER award (2009), the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) Young Investigator Award (2012), Penn’s Emerging Inventor of the year award (2018), the Ruth and Joel Spira award for Excellence in Teaching (2021), and the University Lindback award for distinguished teaching (2022). He has published 160+ peer reviewed publications and has graduated sixteen Ph.D. students and three postdocs, including three tenured professors, four current tenure-track professors, and winners of five dissertation awards. As an entrepreneur, he co-founded two companies: Netsil, a cloud microservices analytics company acquired by public cloud company Nutanix Inc., and Termaxia, an energy-efficient big data storage company acquired by Frontiir.