Universiteit Leiden

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PhD Position in Large-Scale Systems Performance Reproducibility

Wetenschappelijke functies, PhD-posities
Omvang (fte)
Geplaatst op
2 juni 2021
1 september 2021

Solliciteer direct

The Faculty of Science, Leiden Institute of Advanced Computer Science, is looking for candidates for a

PhD Position in Large-Scale Systems Performance Reproducibility

Project description
In computer systems, performance evaluation involves assessing the time-to-solution, resource usage, scaling and efficiency of systems, as well as low-level hardware performance counters. Performance evaluation in modern computer systems (distributed systems, HPC, cloud computing) is inherently flawed by the lack of performance evaluation protocols and by the rapid dissemination pace of the publish-or-perish academic world. Coupling this with the highly variable cloud, performance evaluation becomes non-reproducible and produces possibly wrong performance conclusions. Wrong performance conclusions can possibly form a threat to users who might rely on guarantees that are not met in practice. In this project we aim to develop protocols and techniques for achieving reproducible performance evaluation. We aim to apply such techniques at large scale in assessing the performance of modern computing frameworks related to cloud computing (e.g., serverless, FaaS), big data (Spark, Hadoop, large-scale storage), machine learning (Tensorflow, pytorch), HPC (large-scale simulations). We encourage applications from students with a keen interest in low-level systems and their inner workings, as well as analytical skills. This is a novel topic in the computer systems community, established in the Netherlands by dr. Alexandru Uta. His new group at Leiden University aims to tackle the challenging problem of performance reproducibility and disseminate their findings through top-tier academic venues.

Key responsibilities

  • Conducting research in the field of large-scale systems performance reproducibility of Dr. Alexandru Uta;
  • Studying the related literature, developing new approaches, prototyping novel techniques for performance reproducibility, and publishing the results in top-tier  conferences and journals;
  • Pursuing international collaborations on the topic.

Selection criteria

  • Master degree in Computer Science or a closely related field;
  • Strong interest in computer systems and performance evaluation is required;
  • Experience with (several of): low-level systems programming, distributed (data processing) systems (Spark, Hadoop), HPC (MPI, openMP, GPUs), cloud computing, math and statistics;
  • Proficient in spoken and written English;
  • Highly-motivated, independent and creative team player with good communication skills;

Our organisation
The Leiden Faculty of Science is a world-class faculty where staff and students work together in a dynamic international environment. Our people are driven by curiosity to expand fundamental knowledge and to look beyond the borders of their own discipline.

The research carried out at the Faculty of Science is diverse, ranging from artificial intelligence, computer science, mathematics, astronomy, physics, chemistry and bio-pharmaceutical sciences to biology and environmental sciences. The faculty has grown strongly in recent years and now has more than 2,300 staff and almost 5,000 students. We are located at the heart of Leiden’s Bio Science Park, one of Europe’s biggest science parks, where university and business life come together. For more information, see the website of the Faculty of Science.

The Leiden Institute of Advanced Computer Science (LIACS) is the Computer Science Institute of the Faculty of Science of Leiden University. We offer courses at the Bachelor and Master of Science level in the core areas of Computer Systems, Artificial Intelligence, Computer Science, and Data Science, and also in the interdisciplinary areas of ICT in Business, Media Technology and Creative science, and Bioinformatics. According to an independent research visitation, we are one of the foremost computer science departments of the Netherlands. Our people and our focus on collaboration in a caring atmosphere are dear to us. We strive for excellence in a caring institute, where excellence, fun, and inclusiveness go hand in hand. We offer a clear and inviting career path to young and talented scientists with the ambition to grow. For more information about LIACS, see the website.

Terms and conditions
We offer a full-time appointment of initially one year. After a positive evaluation of the progress of the research, personal capabilities and compatibility, the appointment will be extended for another 3 years. Salary range from € 2.325,-  to € 2.972,-  gross per month (pay scale P in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities).

Leiden University offers an attractive benefits package with additional holiday (8%) and end-of-year bonuses (8.3%), training and career development. Our individual choices model gives you some freedom to assemble your own set of terms and conditions. Candidates from outside the Netherlands may be eligible for a substantial tax

All our PhD students are embedded in the Leiden University Graduate School of Science. Our graduate school offers several PhD training courses at three levels: professional courses, skills training and personal effectiveness. In addition, advanced courses to deepen scientific knowledge are offered by the research school.

Diversity and work-life balance
Leiden University is strongly committed to diversity within its community and especially welcomes applications from members of underrepresented groups. LIACS is a highly diverse institute, in culture, background, and gender. We stand for excellence in a caring Institute. We wish to reflect society in all aspects, as we believe that this improves the dynamics in our organization. Therefore, we support and understand the need for a work/life/family balance and consequent varying working hours and places. We believe that doing good science is fun, and goes hand in hand with a friendly culture. In the Netherlands, a maternity allowance is standard for 16 weeks. Child care is available at and near the Bio Science Park.

Inquiries about the research area can be made to Alexandru Uta, email a.uta@liacs.leidenuniv.nl. If you have any questions about the procedure, please contact Liselotte van der Woerd, email l.van.der.woerd@liacs.leidenuniv.nl.

To apply for this vacancy, please send an email to jobs@liacs.leidenuniv.nl. Applicants should submit their essay, CV, master thesis copy (and/or other publications), and the list of references, quoting the vacancy number. Only applications received no later than September 1, 2021 can be considered. The Application procedure is as follows:

  • Read the article Uta, Alexandru, et al. "Is big data performance reproducible in modern cloud networks?." 17th USENIX Symposium on Networked Systems Design and Implementation (NSDI 20). 2020. Answer, in a two-page essay, the following questions: (1) how could you apply the findings of this article to your current work (e.g., MSc thesis)? (2) what are the limitations of this article? (3) how would you extend the work in this article to achieve better performance reproducibility?. Send this essay together with your application.;
  • Send a copy of your MSc thesis. If the thesis is still under preparation, please send a draft. In case you have published articles in peer-reviewed venues, please also attach an article of your choosing;
  • Send a copy of your CV/resume in which you highlight the experience that makes you a suitable candidate for this position;
  • Send a list of at most 3 references. We will then contact them separately to produce a recommendation letter.



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