Selecting research papers to read for Advanced Operating Systems

Building reliable, high-performance systems

For advanced operating systems course, us students are required to sign up for (at least) two research papers that we summarize. Although two papers doesn’t sound like much, many former students of the course suggested ignore the other research papers and instead, focus on watching the lectures (which do cover the papers, sort of), banging out the software project, and (sadly) performing rote memorization based off of previous exams (I’ll need to get my Anki set up for this, stat).

Reviews on OMSCentral related to reading papers

I gave up on trying to read all the papers, electing to focus on projects and memorize the lectures instead. It worked out ok for me, and I averaged 18 hours a week on this course anyway. YMMV.

The downside to me is the number of readings was, well, high. Somewhere around 45 papers are to be read during the semester, and most of them are foundational but also from an earlier time in computing. I enjoy newer research papers with tech I can relate to, so for me in general these were less enjoyable and more difficult to digest. Still worthwhile, I think, but more of a slog.

The sheer number of papers assigned could easily push the time commitment past 30 hours a week if a student were to read them all, but as most have noted, you can largely skip reading them. Even skipping papers, the lectures are long and are difficult to get through. The content is broad and I think it tries to cover too much ground.

Papers I’m going to read

So although I’ll probably skim most of the research papers, I’ll dig into the below papers in depth. Why did I choose these papers? Well, some of the other papers (on networking) played into my strengths, categories that I’m somewhat well versed on. As a result, I chose papers grouped under categories that I not only find interesting (distributed systems and failures + recovery mechanism) but categories I’m unfamiliar with.

  • Liu, Kreitz, van Renesse, Hickey, Hayden, Birman, Constable, “Building Reliable High Performance Communication Systems from Components “, 17th ACM Symposium on Operating System Principles, OS Review, Volume 33, Number 5, Dec. 1999.
  • D. Porter, O. Hofmann, C. Rossbach, A. Benn, E. Witchel, “Operating System Transactions“, SOSP’09.


Stretch goal

  • Lamport, L., “Time, Clocks, and the Ordering of Events in a Distributed System”, Communications of the ACM, 21, 7, pgs. 558-565, July 1978.


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