Date of Award

6-2014

Degree Name

MS in Computer Science

Department

Computer Science

Advisor

Chris Lupo

Abstract

Data quantity, speed requirements, reliability constraints, and other factors encourage industry developers to build distributed systems and use distributed services. Software engineers are therefore exposed to distributed systems and services daily in the workplace. However, distributed computing is hard to teach in Computer Science courses due to the complexity distribution brings to all problem spaces. This presents a gap in education where students may not fully understand the challenges introduced with distributed systems. Teaching students distributed concepts would help better prepare them for industry development work.

DecaFS, Distributed Educational Component Adaptable File System, is a modular distributed file system designed for educational use. The goal of the system is to teach distributed computing concepts to undergraduate and graduate level students by allowing them to develop small, digestible portions of the system. The system is broken up into layers, and each layer is broken up into modules so that students can build or modify different components in small, assignment- sized portions. Students can replace modules or entire layers by following the DecaFS APIs and recompiling the system. This allows the behavior of the DFS (Distributed File System) to change based on student implementation, while providing base functionality for students to work from.

Our implementation includes a code base of core DecaFS Modules that students can work from and basic implementations of non-core DecaFS Modules. Our basic non-core modules can be modified to implement more complex distribution techniques without modifying core modules. We have shown the feasibility of developing a modular DFS, while adhering to requirements such as configurable sizes (file, stripe, chunk) and support of multiple data replication strategies.

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