Where Dreams Meet


Researcher in lab


Charles Babbage shocked listeners in 1833 as he spoke of his audacious dream - creating a machine that could execute calculations by steam.

Dreams of computing machines go almost as far back as dreams of space exploration. So it is only appropriate that the computer is what made precision landings on the moon technologically feasible. Since then, computers and space have been inseparably linked, and CSL has been a part of the adventure.

In the 1980s, CSL and the Department of Computer Science created a NASA Center for Excellence in Aerospace Computing.

Fault-Tolerant System Design
Researchers developed fault-tolerant designs for mission-critical computer control systems. This work was applied to Pratt and Whitney jet engine controllers being tested at NASA.

Designs included new checkpoint and rollback error-recovery techniques, which evolved into today's techniques for protecting critical financial systems. Theoretical results included the impossibility of agreement between asynchronous, fail-stop processes.

Monitoring, Measurement, Evaluation
CSL created tools and techniques for monitoring, measuring, and evaluating highly reliable computer systems. This work included the first sampling-based simulation of large cache designs. Load-dependency measurements performed on IBM systems and the resulting models had a major impact on dependability evaluation.

Cluster Architecture
CSL developed an early cluster architecture (NETRA) for use in computer vision and imaging, which are vital in space exploration.

The Illinois Protocol
This protocol solved the problem of ensuring that several processors on the same board have a consistent set of cache data between them. The Illinois Protocol is crucial to high-performance computing, such as mission-critical systems.