Gautam Altekar's Computer Science Research


During my freshman year, I became increasingly interested in computer systems. Specifically, I had read about how parallel and distributed systems were being used to solve some very cool scientific and mathematical problems. SETI at home and Mersenne prime search are some examples. I wanted to know how these applications worked. And in general, I realized that many things in life are parallel and distributed in nature. Your brain, for example, is a vast collection of parallel entities (neurons) that work together to produce a meaningful result. In short, I was fascinated by the possibilities with parallel and distributed systems.

To put my interests into action, I decided that the best way to get started is to talk to a professor. So I browsed the department webpage and found a professor involved in parallel and distributed systems work (Professor Sandhya Dwarkadas). Since I had just completed CS171 and was taking CS172, I figured that the professor could tell me where to get started. In truth, I lacked the know-how (aside from some C programming experience) for any real systems work. But my professor gave me some projects and helped me when I got stuck. She pointed me to relevant research papers and taught me the general principles of the field.

My research experience didn't really start until the end of my freshman year, when I began working to parallelize an evolutionary biology program. Parallelizing the program would result in faster computations of evolutionary trees. The algorithmic challenges and practical implications of the program were particularly motivating. So I decided to stay the summer in Rochester and work on it. My summer work was fruitful but more work could be done to improve the program's performance. So during my sophmore I began working on a load-balancing algorithm for the program. This summer, I am still working on the biology program, but I am also implementing fault-tolerance for the Cashmere software distributed shared memory system.

I will be graduating in 2004, after which I would like to go to graduate school and get my Ph.D in computer science. My goal is to become a research scientist and perhaps a professor. Aside from my research, I play violin in the River Campus Symphony orchestra and study violin at the Eastman School. I also study music composition at the River Campus and hope to double major in comp sci and music with a minor in mathematics.

Sandhya Dwarkadas' Webpage
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