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NSF Deadline: Principles and Practice of Scalable Systems

NSF Publication 20-534

A key focus of the design of modern computing systems is performance and scalability, particularly in light of the limits of Moore’s Law and Dennard scaling. To this end, systems are increasingly being implemented by composing heterogeneous computing components and continually changing memory systems as novel, performant hardware surfaces. Applications fueled by rapid strides in machine learning, data analysis, and extreme-scale simulation are becoming more domain-specific and highly distributed. In this scenario, traditional boundaries between hardware-oriented and software-oriented disciplines increasingly are blurred.

Achieving scalability of systems and applications will therefore require coordinated progress in multiple disciplines such as computer architecture, high-performance computing (HPC), programming languages and compilers, security and privacy, systems, theory, and algorithms.Cross-cutting concerns such as performance (including, but not limited to, time, space, and communication resource usage and energy efficiency), correctness and accuracy (including, but not limited to, emerging techniques for program analysis, testing, debugging, probabilistic reasoning and inference, and verification), security and privacy, robustness and reliability, domain-specific design, and heterogeneity must be taken into account from the outset in all aspects of systems and application design and implementation.