Sky Seminar: Michael Wei (VMWare Research) – Rethinking Distributed Clocks

Speaker: Michael Wei
Location: Soda 430-438, Woz Lounge
Date: April 21, 2023
Time: 12-1pm PST

Rethinking Distributed Clocks

For decades, clocks have been avoided in distributed systems design as a matter of “best practice”. A “good” distributed system avoids the use of clocks, which should not be assumed to be synchronized. Recent advances have taught us that not only is it possibly to synchronize clocks, but that clocks could have been easily synchronized in software all along. In this talk, I will overview our existing work, Graham, which shows that it is possible to finely synchronize clocks using existing software and infrastructure by leveraging temperature sensors available at every commodity server. I will then talk about the implications for distributed systems, and present preliminary work leveraging clocks in the wireless space.

Michael Wei is a full-stack systems researcher. This places him in a unique position to see synergies that can only be seen by understanding the entire system. Prior to joining VMWare Research, he graduated from UC San Diego. He also works on a solo home remodel in his free time, tinkering with home automation (contributions to home-assistant and Frigate Object Detection), and travel hack flights around the world.