Recent Advances in the Application of Control Theory to Network and
Abdelzaher, Yixin Diao, Joseph L. Hellerstein, Chenyang Lu, Sharad
International Symposium on Integrated Network Management (IM'09)
Feedback control is central to
managing computing systems and networks. For example, feedback is
employed to achieve response time objectives by taking resource actions
such as adjusting scheduling priorities and bandwidth allocations.
Unfortunately, software practitioners typically employ an ad hoc
approach to the design of closed loop systems, often with undesirable
results such as large oscillations or slow adaptation to changes in
In other engineering disciplines (e.g., mechanical, electrical, and
aeronautical engineering), control theory is used to analyze and design
feedback loops. Control theory provides a way to determine if feedback
loops are stable (e.g., avoid wild oscillations), accurate in their
control (e.g., achieve the desired response time objectives), and
settle quickly to their steady state values (e.g., to adjust to
workload dynamics). Recently, control theory has been used in the
design of many aspects of computing, with a few examples of commercial
products designed using control theory. Examples of where control
theory has been used include: networking protocols (e.g., new versions
of TCP/IP), real time systems, web servers, database servers,
multi-tier computing systems, and workload managers.
This tutorial provides an introduction to control theory for
researchers and practitioners with a background in computer science.
The tutorial provides a short introduction to the basic elements of
control theory, and then focuses on recent advances in both theory and
application. The tutorial concludes with a discussion of research
- Control Theory Fundamentals (slides).
- Self-Tuning Memory Management of a Database System (slides).
- CPU Utilization Control in Distributed Real‐Time Systems (slides).
- Automated Resource Management in Virtualized Data Centers (slides).
- Energy Management and Adaptive Behavior (slides).
- Research Challenges (slides).
Tarek Abdelzaher, Yixin Diao, Joseph L. Hellerstein, Chenyang Lu, and Xiaoyun Zhu, International Conference on Measurement and Modeling of Computer Systems (SIGMETRICS'08), June 2, 2008.
Tarek Abdelzaher, Yixin Diao, Joseph L. Hellerstein, Chenyang Lu, and Xiaoyun Zhu, Introduction
to Control Theory and its Application to Computing Systems, Performance Modeling and Engineering, Springer, 2008. (Book chapter for SIGMETRICS'08 tutorial)
Tarek Abdelzaher, Chenyang Lu, and Anders Robertsson, Introduction to Control Theory and Its Application to Feedback Computing, Cyber-Physical Systems Week (CPS Week'13), April 8, 2013.