COSHER, Jonas and DA@L

My EPSRC first grant COSHER (Compact Self-Healing Routing) is coming to it’s final stages. Maybe I should have shouted about it earlier but we do have a website at My wonderful postoc Jonas Lefevre has recently moved on to his new mission after his year here. We have a number of interesting results, I believe, and more than that, a number of interesting ideas in the pipeline. In particular, we have some interesting ideas on algorithms for low memory large networks which I shall discuss here at some point in the future. We also have work on variants of leader election and fully dynamic self-healing routing in the pipeline. The time was almost too short – for this, it is good that EPSRC has now removed the funding cap of £125K from the first grant (besides renaming it to NIA – New Investigator Award) making it practically possible to support a postdoc for more than a year. Merci beacoup Jonas and thank you, EPSRC.

Finally, I am planning to organise a workshop centered around the themes of the grant – Reliability, Routing and Memory constraints on January 28th at Loughborough. I already have some exciting ‘Ayes’ to participation. The idea is to have some practitioners tell us what they really need and some theorists like me to feel happy that our dreamy ideas will be transformative in reality! I plan to call it DA@L – Distributed Algorithms @ Loughborough. I know, I know, it probably reminds a few of you of Lentil soup (daal), which doesn’t seem as exciting as butter chicken but, hey, climate change is real and maybe we have to do our bit eating low carbon usage foods! 🙂 –  If you have some ideas and/or plan to participate, please drop me a message!


A summer blast: from sidelines of PODC’18

Some very regular and well known or less known (like me) Beer drinking musketeers of PODCs!
Some very regular and well known or less known (like me) Beer drinking musketeers of PODCs!

A random walk through my maze of thousands of unread/less-read mails on my gmail account landed me on a mail with the picture above. This brought back thoughts from the summer on what research is all about – escaping from a few good days of `intellectual’ activity to possibly even more satisfying evenings of Beer and Indian food!

In particular, on the last day of the conference (-1 days before the final workshop day), as workshops chair and one of the localhosts (, I was cornered by a Nitin Vaidya in desperate yearning of very spicy Indian food. This was fortuitious – the conference being in London, which apparently boasts of more Indian restaurants than Bombay and Delhi combined! Anyways, a proposal was floated for the best Punjabi food outside Punjab (this being in SouthAll) – a few other afficiniados gathered, program scrapped due to heavy traffic, resurrected after the beer above (not at Southall but by the river Thames) and finally culminated in glory and delicious (and spicy on request) food at the Roxy restaurant in SouthAll. The menu was Sarson Saag, Makki Roti, Makki Methi Roti, Daal Makhani, Madras Chicken et etc..ending with Faluda dessert! Needless to say, we were too busy with the food to take pictures!

Roxy@SouthAll, London

Here’s a fascinating read about the fascinating `Little Punjab’.  and a sampler of eating out in SouthAll. Being a Punjabi, I can assert to the authenticity of the experience but I would say I was less better off with the spices the next day than the brave quartet of Nitin, Maurice, Antonio and Gadi!

DEX on Freeview!

Our paper “DEX: self-healing expanders” which was published in Distributed Computing is now piblicly available at as part of the Springer Nature SharedIt initiative.

Here is the mial below from Springer:

Dear Author,

Congratulations on publishing “DEX: self-healing expanders” in Distributed Computing. As part of the Springer Nature SharedIt initiative, you can now publicly share a full-text view-only version of your paper by using the link below. If you have selected an Open Access option for your paper, or where an individual can view content via a personal or institutional subscription, recipients of the link will also be able to download and print the PDF. All readers of your article via the shared link will also be able to use Enhanced PDF features such as annotation tools, one-click supplements, citation file exports and article metrics.

We encourage you to forward this link to your co-authors, as sharing your paper is a great way to improve the visibility of your work. There are no restrictions on the number of people you may share this link with, how many times they can view the linked article or where you can post the link online.

More information on Springer Nature’s commitment to content sharing is available here.

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The Springer Nature SharedIt Initiative is powered by  ReadCube technology.

Wish you a good read! 🙂

Work-Shopping at PODC 2018

PODC 2018 is just around the corner i.e. coming up next week at RHUL, London! it has been a privelege to be the Workshops chair. In particular, it has been exciting to see a great program of workshops come together in a semi-distributed manner. Some of the workshops are well established and some are coming here for the first time. Either way, it feels like one is watching the evolution of stars in a galaxy from the timeline of origin – in the sense that some of these may evolve into full fledged conferences at some point and some may die out but each brings a perspective on a niche (possibly) and growing area of research. This is also the stage to experiment with ideas which are coming (or maybe not) but maybe not there yet!

The workshops are over two days – 23rd July and 27th July – a solid main course of 6 workshops interspersed with 4 lunch-time tutorials. The program has settled down such that we have Biological, Social networks and Blockchains on day 1 and Large scale distributed implementation, systems and Edge and fog computing on day 2.

Happy days!!

Here is the web link:


Hope to see you there!




BCTCS 2018 : Day 3, Terminus!

Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of blog reports by my PhD student Gary Bennett who attended the annual British Colloquium for Theoretical Computer Science (BCTCS) 2018  at Royal Holloway University of London. Apparently, he really enjoyed himself!

On the third and final day of BTCS I was able to relax as I had already given my talk.

One of the talks that was particularly interesting was on Concurrent Kleene Algebra, aimed at incorporating concurrent composition. The talk showed how the toolkit for Kleene Algebra had been extended and what problems they had to overcome such as recursive forking.

In the afternoon there was a series of talks on stable matching. Stable matching is being used to find adoptive families for children in need of loving and permanent homes, and closer home for student projects allocation. Provided these matching instances are small enough they can be solved directly. However, for large instances the problem is intractable. In the talks given a number of approximation methods were presented to give high quality solutions in less time.

This marks the end of my journey at BCTCS. I have had a great time and met many great researchers!

Now it is time for me to relax over the Easter break in Hong Kong!


BCTCS 2018 : Day 2, Ahoy fellow Distributors!

Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of blog reports by my PhD student Gary Bennett who attended the annual British Colloquium for Theoretical Computer Science (BCTCS) 2018  at Royal Holloway University of London. Apparently, he really enjoyed himself!

Day 2 of BCTCS 2018: today is an important day as there is a series of Distributed Systems talks, I having the honour of delivering one of them.

The first talk on Distributed Systems was delivered by Thomas Sauerwald of Cambridge University and was on Randomised Distributed Algorithms; such algorithms use random bits to determine some steps in their execution. These algorithms are usually elegant in their design and implementation, while in some cases providing solutions that are impossible in the deterministic setting.

Thomas Sauerwald, Cambridge.

Thomas presented two examples in his talk on randomised algorithms focusing on large distributed networks. The first algorithm used randomisation on a rounding step in a load balancing algorithm and the second used random sampling to reach consensus.

I was the second speaker in the distributed systems segment of the conference. In my talk, I gave a brief introduction to the classic problem of leader election and presented the direction of my current research on asynchronous leader election.

The final speaker for distributed systems was Radu Ștefan Mincu. Admittedly at the beginning of his talk he admitted that his work very centralised. However, it was still very interesting. His talk was on multi-channel Wireless Mesh Networks (WMN), where each node may use multiple non-overlapping frequency channels. He presented 3 heuristic approximation algorithms to solve this problem.

The second day of the conference ended with a banquet in the founders buildings picture gallery. It was an extremely pleasant evening with conversations ranging from education to European nobility!

BCTCS 2018 : Day 1, Is this really London?

Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of blog reports by my PhD student Gary Bennett who attended the annual British Colloquium for Theoretical Computer Science (BCTCS) 2018  at Royal Holloway University of London. Apparently, he really enjoyed himself!

The British Colloquium for Theoretical Computer Science (BCTCS) is an annual event for UK-based researchers in theoretical computer science. The conference provides PhD students the opportunity to present and discuss their research will other PhDs as well as established researchers from all over the country.

Royal Holloway hosted BCTCS this year. Royal Holloway was founded in 1849, as one of the first colleges dedicated to providing women with access to higher education, by the victorian entrepreneur and philanthropist Thomas Holloway following the inspiration of his wife Jane. The college was officially opened by Queen Victoria in 1886. The campus grounds are particularly beautiful with the founders building being a very popular filming location for both TV and film.

Royal Holloway University of London Founder’s Building

Deep neural networks were one of the big draw on the conference’s first day. Deep neural networks are unrivaled in the domain of image classification. However, they are particularly vulnerable to adversarial perturbations on their input, changing the value of a single pixel can cause a misclassification. With this technology being used in self driving cars, it is only fair to ask —

Are deep neural networks really safe?

To help put our minds at ease Marta Kwiatkowska of Oxford University (talk title: ) has developed a novel automated verification framework for neural networks that is able to provide some guarantees that an adversarial image will be found if it exists e.g. a self-driving car will be able to detect an object on the road that may cause a collision!

John E Hopcroft at BCTCS 2018. More pictures at

The prominent computer scientist John E. Hopcroft was the London Mathematical Society’s (LMS) invited speaker (talk: ). John’s talk started with one of the recent major advancements in AI when in 2012 AlexNet won the ImageNet Challenge with a deep neural network that had a top-5 error of more than 10 percentage points better than the next runner up. However, we understand very little of why deep learning works. The questions being asked in deep learning are:

 Is the structure of the network more important than the training?

Can a network be trained much quicker than at present?

Do we even need a large training set?

After all when a child learns what an object is we do not need to teach them thousands of examples!

The first day of BCTCS has been fantastic! My turn tomorrow.