Proceedings of the 15th IFIP International Conference on Distributed Applications and Interoperable Systems (DAIS). :124–137.
Designing and implementing distributed systems is a hard endeavor, both at an abstract level when designing the system, and at a concrete level when implementing, debugging and evaluating it. This stems not only from the inherent complexity of writing and reasoning about distributed software, but also from the lack of tools for testing and evaluating it under realistic conditions. Moreover, the gap between the protocols’ specifications found on research papers and their implementations on real code is huge, leading to inconsistencies that often result in the implementation no longer following the specification. As an example, the specification of the popular Chord DHT comprises a few dozens of lines, while its Java implementation, OpenChord, is close to twenty thousand lines, excluding libraries. This makes it hard and error prone to change the implementation to reflect changes in the specification, regardless of programmers’ skill. Besides, critical behavior due to the unpredictable interleaving of operations and network uncertainty, can only be observed on a realistic setting, limiting the usefulness of simulation tools. We believe that being able to write an algorithm implementation very close to its specification, and evaluating it in a real environment is a big step in the direction of building better distributed systems. Our approach leverages the MINHA platform to offer a set of built in primitives that allows one to program very close to pseudo-code. This high level implementation can interact with off-the-shelf existing middleware and can be gradually replaced by a production-ready Java implementation. In this paper, we present the system design and showcase it using a well-known algorithm from the literature.