High-Level Specification of
Distributed Algorithms

Y. Annie Liu, Scott D. Stoller, and Bo Lin
Friday, July 28, 2017

Two sessions, 1.5 hour each, with a 30 minute break in between.

Session 1:

  • A brief introduction to distributed algorithms and an overview of languages for expressing distributed algorithms.  The introduction covers important algorithms to be used as examples, including Paxos for distributed consensus that is at the core of distributed services.
  • A method for expressing distributed algorithms with (a) high-level control flows that are easy to understand as in pseudo-code, and (b)  precise semantics for rigorous analysis and verification as in formal specification languages.

Session 2:

  • A new language, DistAlgo, that minimally extends conventional programming languages, such as Python and Java, for such high-level  programming of distributed algorithms, and methods for efficient implementations.
  • Demonstrations and experiments, with an implementation of the language in Python, on example algorithms and implementations; as time permits, hands-on practice with specifying and running distributed algorithms.

For more information, see the tutorial proposal and DistAlgo website.


  • Y. Annie Liu is a Professor of Computer Science at Stony Brook University. She received her BS from Peking University, MEng from Tsinghua University, and PhD from Cornell University. Her primary research is in languages and algorithms, and focuses specially on systematic methods for design and optimizations. She has published in many prestigious venues, taught in a wide range of Computer Science areas, and presented over 100 conference and invited talks worldwide.  Her awards include a State University of New York Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities.
  • Scott D. Stoller is a Professor of Computer Science at Stony Brook University.  He received his BS in Physics, summa cum laude, from Princeton University and his PhD in Computer Science from Cornell University.  His primary research interests are design, analysis, optimization, testing, and verification of software, with focuses on computer security, concurrency, and incremental computation.  He received an NSF CAREER Award, an ONR Young Investigator Award, a NASA Turning Goals Into Reality Award for Engineering Innovation, Best Paper Awards at Haifa Verification 2005, Runtime Verification 2011, and Data and Applications Security and Privacy 2016, and a SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities.
  • Bo Lin is a PhD student at Stony Brook University.  He received his BS and MS from Peking University.  His main research focuses on implementation and optimization of distributed programming languages.  He has implemented several versions of DistAlgo.