Defense Event

Scaling Causality Analysis for Production Systems

Michael Chow

Friday, September 09, 2016
2:00pm - 4:00pm
3725 Beyster Bldg.

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About the Event

Causality analysis reveals how program values influence each other. It is important for debugging, optimizing, and understanding the execution of programs. This thesis scales causality analysis to production systems consisting of desktop and server applications as well as large-scale Internet services. This enables developers to employ causality analysis to debug and optimize complex, modern software systems. This thesis shows that it is possible to scale causality analysis to both fine-grained instruction level analysis and analysis of Internet scale distributed systems with thousands of discrete software components by developing and employing automated methods to observe and reason about causality. First, we observe causality at a fine-grained instruction level by developing the first taint tracking framework to support tracking millions of input sources. We also introduce flexible taint tracking to allow for scoping different queries and dynamic filtering of inputs, outputs, and relationships. Next, we introduce the Mystery Machine, which uses a “big data” approach to discover causal relationships between software components in a large-scale Internet service. We leverage the fact that large-scale Internet services receive a large number of requests in order to observe counterexamples to hypothesized causal relationships. Using discovered casual relationships, we identify the critical path for request execution and use the critical path analysis to explore potential scheduling optimizations. Finally, we explore using causality to make data-quality tradeoffs in Internet services. A data-quality tradeoff is an explicit decision by a software component to return lower-fidelity data in order to improve response time or minimize resource usage. We perform a study of data-quality tradeoffs in a large-scale Internet service to show the pervasiveness of these tradeoffs. We develop DQBarge, a system that enables better data-quality tradeoffs by propagating critical information along the causal path of request processing. Our evaluation shows that DQBarge helps Internet services mitigate load spikes, improve utilization of spare resources, and implement dynamic capacity planning.

Additional Information

Sponsor(s): Prof. Jason Flinn

Open to: Public