Section: Scientific Foundations
Modeling Platform Dynamics
Modeling the platform dynamics in a satisfying manner, in order to design and analyze efficient algorithms, is a major challenge. In a semi-stable platform, the performance of individual nodes (be they computing or communication resources) will fluctuate; in a fully dynamic platform, which is our ultimate target, the set of available nodes will also change over time, and algorithms must take these changes into account if they are to be efficient.
There are basically two ways one can model such evolution: one can use a stochastic process , or some kind of adversary model .
In a stochastic model, the platform evolution is governed by some specific probability distribution. One obvious advantage of such a model is that it can be simulated and, in many well-studied cases, analyzed in detail. The two main disadvantages are that it can be hard to determine how much of the resulting algorithm performance comes from the specifics of the evolution process, and that estimating how realistic a given model is – none of the current project participants are metrology experts.
In an adversary model, it is assumed that these unpredictable changes are under the control of an adversary whose goal is to interfere with the algorithms efficiency. Major assumptions on the system's behavior can be included in the form of restrictions on what this adversary can do (like maintaining such or such level of connectivity). Such models are typically more general than stochastic models, in that many stochastic models can be seen as a probabilistic specialization of a nondeterministic model (at least for bounded time intervals, and up to negligible probabilities of adopting "forbidden" behaviors).
Since we aim at proving guaranteed performance for our algorithms, we want to concentrate on suitably restricted adversary models. The main challenge in this direction is thus to describe sets of restricted behaviors that both capture realistic situations and make it possible to prove such guarantees.