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Department of Computer Science Colloquium
2019 Series

Declarative Programming in Software-defined Networks: Past. Present, and the Road Ahead

Prof. Boon Thau Loo
Department of Computer and Information Science
University of Pennsylvania

Date: July 15, 2019 (Monday)
Time: 11:00 am - 12:00 pm
Venue: SCT909, Cha Chi Ming Science Tower, Ho Sin Hang Campus

Declarative networking is a technology that has transformed the way software-defined networking programs are written and deployed. Instead of writing low level code, network operators can write high level specifications that can be verified and compiled into actual implementations. This talk describes 15 years of research in declarative networking, tracing its roots as a domain specific language, to its role in verification, debugging of networks, and commercial use as a declarative network analytics engine. The talk concludes with a peek into the future of declarative networking programming, in the area of examples-guided network synthesis, and infrastructure-aware declarative query processing.

Boon Thau Loo is a Professor in the Computer and Information Science (CIS) department at the University of Pennsylvania. He holds a secondary appointment in the Electrical and Systems Engineering (ESE) department. He is also the Associate Dean of the Master's and Professional Programs, where he oversees all masters programs at the School of Engineering and Applied Science. He is also currently the interim director of the Distributed Systems Laboratory (DSL), an inter-disciplinary systems research lab bringing together researchers in networking, distributed systems, and security. 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 was awarded the 2006 David J. Sakrison Memorial Prize for the most outstanding dissertation research in the Department of EECS at University of California-Berkeley, and the 2007 ACM SIGMOD Dissertation Award. He is a recipient of the NSF CAREER award (2009), the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) Young Investigator Award (2012) and Penn's Emerging Inventor of the year award (2018). He has published 100+ peer reviewed publications and has supervised twelve Ph.D. dissertations. His graduated Ph.D. students include 3 tenure-track faculty members and winners of 4 dissertation awards.

In addition to his academic work, he actively participates in entrepreneurial activities involving technology transfer. He is the Chief Scientist at Termaxia, a software-defined storage startup based in Philadelphia that he co-founded in 2015. Termaxia offers low-power high-performance software-defined storage solutions targeting the exabyte-scale storage market, with customers in the US, China, and Southeast Asia. Prior to Termaxia, he co-founded Gencore Systems (Netsil) in 2014, a cloud performance analytics company that spun out of his research team at Penn, commercializing his research on the Scalanytics declarative analytics platform. The company was successfully acquired by Nutanix Inc in 2018. He has also published several papers with industry partners (e.g. AT&T, HP Labs, Intel, LogicBlox, Microsoft) applying research on real-world systems that result in actual production deployment and patents.

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