PODC 2020 Review
Rachid Guerraoui was the rst keynote speaker, and he got things o to a great start by discussing the broad relevance of the research done in our community relative to both industry and academia. He rst argued that, in some sense, the fact that distributed computing is so pervasive nowadays could end up sti ing progress in our community by inducing people to work on marginal problems, and becoming isolated. His rst suggestion was to try to understand and incorporate new ideas coming from applied elds into our research, and argued that this has been historically very successful. He illustrated this point via the distributed payment problem, which appears in the context of blockchains, in particular Bitcoin, but then turned out to be very theoretically interesting; furthermore, the theoretical understanding of the problem inspired new practical protocols. He then went further to discuss new directions in distributed computing, such as the COVID tracing problem, and new challenges in Byzantine-resilient distributed machine learning. Another source of innovation Rachid suggested was hardware innovations, which he illustrated with work studying the impact of RDMA-based primitives on fundamental problems in distributed computing. The talk concluded with a very lively discussion.