SSS’14 Conference
October 8, 2014, 5:53 pm
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[The following blog report on SSS’14 was written by my student George Saad]


16th International Symposium on Stabilization, Safety, and Security of Distributed Systems (SSS 2014) was held in Paderborn, Germany, from Sep 28 to Oct 1, 2014. This conference discusses the design and development of distributed systems with fault-tolerance and self-* properties.

SSS 2014 had seven sessions: self-stabilization I/II/III; Dependable Systems; Formal Methods, Safety, and Security; Ad-hoc, Sensor and Mobile Networks and Cyberphysical Systems; and Cloud Computing, P2P, Self-organizing and Autonomous Systems.

On the first day, which was tutorial day on Self-Organizing Physical Systems, Marco Dorigo, a professor in Universite Libre de Bruxelles and University of Paderborn, gave the fourth talk for Self-organizing Swarms. In this talk, Dorigo showed how to use ants to find the shortest path of a pair of nodes in a network using artificial pheromones. The ants choose one path from a set of paths stochastically, depending on the amount of pheromones of previous ants visited such paths. Note that there are other strategies considered for solving this problem such as separation, alignment and cohesion. Interestingly, finding the shortest path in this way can be used to obtain arg min f(x).

However, artificial pheromones are not practical in many situations. Thus, goal search and path formation are studied in the absence of pheromones. In particular, robots are assigned as points in order to form a path to the goal, after which all other robots will follow such path.

Homogenous robots can cooperate together to perform tasks that cannot be done by individual robots, such as crossing big holes and climbing steep hills. Adaptive rotation is one of the strategies to enable a group of robots to climb high hills. Moreover, the robots do light-flashing to synchronize in order to cooperate properly.

Heterogeneous robots are also considered. Note that they are heterogeneous in the sense that they have different capabilities. Thus, they work together to empower their combined capabilities in order to perform harder tasks. For instance, there are three types of robots: eye-robot, arm-robot and foot-robot. In a popular scenario, they cooperate together to look for and bring a book. First, a eye-robot flies seeking for the book. Once the book is located. A set of foot-robots is notified in order to move to that location carrying an arm-robot. Eventually, the arm-robot catches the book. After that, all these robots return back to the starting point.

In Self-Stabilization I session, Volker Turau, a professor in Hamburg University of Technology, presented his paper, “A self-stabilizing algorithm for edge monitoring problem”.

In wireless sensor networks, the nodes sense the environment and transmit (or forward) the data in the network.  In the presence of adversary, a set of compromised nodes may disrupt the network in the sense of corrupting or dropping messages. Thus, a set of nodes is chosen in order to monitor all communications on edges using k-hop knowledge. In k-hop knowledge, a monitoring node x can monitor the communication on any edge whose endpoint is reachable by at most k hops from node x. The challenging task is to find the minimum set of monitoring nodes in a network. This problem is NP-Complete even for 1-hop knowledge.

Two distributed approximation algorithms are provided as previous work to solve this problem in synchronous model with no transient faults. In this paper, the authors provided a self-stabilizing algorithm, which finds the minimum set of monitoring nodes in the presence of transient faults in asynchronous model. In this algorithm, each node has a state which determines if this node is in or out of the monitoring set, and each node maintains a set of monitoring nodes for each of its adjacent edges. In each step of the algorithm, the state of each node changes only after having the permission of all neighboring nodes.

We presented our paper, Self-Healing Computation, in Self-Stabilization II session. Our contribution is that we developed a self-healing algorithm, for computation networks, which 1) detects computation corruptions made by Byzantine nodes; and 2) segregates such nodes, so that eventually no more corruptions occur.

We show that our self-healing algorithm reduces asymptotically the message cost compared to non-self-healing algorithms. Moreover, our experimental results show that the message cost is reduced by a factor of 425 compared to the naïve computation for a network of size 8k.

In this paper, we have an interesting result: informally, given any tree of size n, and each node survives independently with a constant probability, the probability of having a subtree of surviving nodes of size Ω(log n) is at most ½.

In Self-Stabilization III session, Toshimitsu Masuzawa, a professor in Osaka University, presented the paper, “Edge Coloring Despite Transient and Permanent Faults”. In this paper, the authors provided a self-stabilizing algorithm, which colors the edges of an arbitrary graph so that every node has no two edges of the same color in the presence of Byzantine adversary and in ring topology. The basic idea is that coloring is performed in steps, where one node x proposes colors to its adjacent edges in one step. After setting these colors, if a neighboring node y has two incident edges of the same color, then node y proposes a different color to the edge (x, y). However, this kind of color proposals may not terminate in the presence of a Byzantine node. To overcome this problem, the authors used a rotating priority procedure, where each node has a priority to propose a color in case of conflict, and these priorities change in a round-robin fashion. Unfortunately, this algorithm does not color the graph with the minimum number of colors required. My consideration is that will their algorithm color the graph properly and terminate in case that there is a good node surrounded with two Byzantine nodes in a ring topology?

Also, Hung Tran-The, a graduate student in Universidade de Lisboa, presented his paper, “Tight Bounds for Stabilizing Uniform Consensus in Mobile Networks”. He provided a self-stabilizing algorithm, in which an agreement of nodes is obtained in the presence of crashes, send-omissions or general omissions. However, they claimed that there is no self-stabilizing algorithm in the presence of Byzantine adversary. This is arguable due to the existence of Byzantine Agreement. My consideration is that cannot we implement Byzantine agreement as a self-stabilizing algorithm?

Beside these scientific contents, I have a few comments about Paderborn city. Paderborn is a beautiful and quiet city in Germany. In this city, the mayor of Paderborn invited us to Paderborn Town-Hall. He gave us a presentation showing how beautiful Paderborn city is.


He told us that “Pader” of “Paderborn” means water spring, where Paderborn has many water springs.



We also visited a wonderful palace, Schloss Corvey, which is 57 km away from Paderborn.




Afterwards, we spent good time in a restaurant near to the palace.





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