## Peter Robinson

I'm an Assistant Professor in the Computer Science Department of the City University of Hong Kong. My research focuses on designing new distributed and parallel algorithms, the distributed processing of big data, achieving fault-tolerance in communication networks against adversarial attacks, and developing robust protocols that work in highly dynamic environments such as peer-to-peer Blockchain networks and mobile ad-hoc networks.

My research has been supported by the General Research Fund (Hong Kong), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (Canada), IBM Research, and the London Mathematical Society.

## News

- New paper at SODA 2021
- General Chair of ACM PODC 2019
- On program committee of DISC 2021, ICDCS 2021, SIROCCO 2021, PODC 2020

## Tags (Show all)

Asynchrony Big Data Byzantine Failures Churn Communication Complexity Distributed Agreement Distributed Storage Dynamic Network Fault-Tolerance Gossip Communication Graph Algorithm Haskell Information Complexity Leader Election Machine Learning Mobile Ad-Hoc Network Natural Language Processing ≪ P2P Secure Computation in Networks Self-Healing Symmetry Breaking Wireless Networks## Publications

2020

- DConstructor: Efficient and Robust Network Construction with Polylogarithmic Overhead.

Seth Gilbert, Gopal Pandurangan, Peter Robinson, Amitabh Trehan. 39th ACM Symposium on Principles of Distributed Computing (PODC 2020).

2016

- DEX: Self-Healing ExpandersDOI

Gopal Pandurangan, Peter Robinson, Amitabh Trehan. Distributed Computing (DC).

AbstractWe present a fully-distributed self-healing algorithm DEX, that maintains a constant degree expander network in a dynamic setting. To the best of our knowledge, our algorithm provides the first efficient distributed construction of expanders --- whose expansion properties hold deterministically --- that works even under an all-powerful adaptive adversary that controls the dynamic changes to the network (the adversary has unlimited computational power and knowledge of the entire network state, can decide which nodes join and leave and at what time, and knows the past random choices made by the algorithm). Previous distributed expander constructions typically provide only probabilistic guarantees on the network expansion which rapidly degrade in a dynamic setting; in particular, the expansion properties can degrade even more rapidly under adversarial insertions and deletions. Our algorithm provides efficient maintenance and incurs a low overhead per insertion/deletion by an adaptive adversary: only $O(\log n)$ rounds and $O(\log n)$ messages are needed with high probability ($n$ is the number of nodes currently in the network). The algorithm requires only a constant number of topology changes. Moreover, our algorithm allows for an efficient implementation and maintenance of a distributed hash table (DHT) on top of DEX, with only a constant additional overhead. Our results are a step towards implementing efficient self-healing networks that have guaranteed properties (constant bounded degree and expansion) despite dynamic changes.

2015

- Enabling Efficient and Robust Distributed Computation in Highly Dynamic NetworksDOI

John Augustine, Gopal Pandurangan, Peter Robinson, Scott Roche, Eli Upfal. 56th Annual IEEE Symposium on Foundations of Computer Science (FOCS 2015).

AbstractMotivated by the need for designing efficient and robust fully-distributed computation in highly dynamic networks such as Peer-to-Peer (P2P) networks, we study distributed protocols for constructing and maintaining dynamic network topologies with good expansion properties. Our goal is to maintain a sparse (bounded degree) expander topology despite heavy churn (i.e., nodes joining and leaving the network continuously over time). We assume that the churn is controlled by an adversary that has complete knowledge and control of what nodes join and leave and at what time and has unlimited computational power, but is oblivious to the random choices made by the algorithm. Our main contribution is a randomized distributed protocol that guarantees with high probability the maintenance of a constant degree graph with high expansion even under continuous high adversarial churn. Our protocol can tolerate a churn rate of up to $O(n/\text{polylog}(n))$ per round (where $n$ is the stable network size). Our protocol is efficient, lightweight, and scalable, and it incurs only $O(\text{polylog}(n))$ overhead for topology maintenance: only polylogarithmic (in $n$) bits needs to be processed and sent by each node per round and any node's computation cost per round is also polylogarithmic. The given protocol is a fundamental ingredient that is needed for the design of efficient fully-distributed algorithms for solving fundamental distributed computing problems such as agreement, leader election, search, and storage in highly dynamic P2P networks and enables fast and scalable algorithms for these problems that can tolerate a large amount of churn.

2014

- DEX: Self-Healing ExpandersPDFDOI

Gopal Pandurangan, Peter Robinson, Amitabh Trehan. 28th IEEE International Parallel Distributed Processing Symposium (IPDPS 2014).

AbstractWe present a fully-distributed self-healing algorithm DEX, that maintains a constant degree expander network in a dynamic setting. To the best of our knowledge, our algorithm provides the first efficient distributed construction of expanders --- whose expansion properties hold deterministically --- that works even under an all-powerful adaptive adversary that controls the dynamic changes to the network (the adversary has unlimited computational power and knowledge of the entire network state, can decide which nodes join and leave and at what time, and knows the past random choices made by the algorithm). Previous distributed expander constructions typically provide only probabilistic guarantees on the network expansion which rapidly degrade in a dynamic setting; in particular, the expansion properties can degrade even more rapidly under adversarial insertions and deletions. Our algorithm provides efficient maintenance and incurs a low overhead per insertion/deletion by an adaptive adversary: only $O(\log n)$ rounds and $O(\log n)$ messages are needed with high probability ($n$ is the number of nodes currently in the network). The algorithm requires only a constant number of topology changes. Moreover, our algorithm allows for an efficient implementation and maintenance of a distributed hash table (DHT) on top of DEX, with only a constant additional overhead. Our results are a step towards implementing efficient self-healing networks that have guaranteed properties (constant bounded degree and expansion) despite dynamic changes. - Distributed Agreement in Dynamic Peer-to-Peer NetworksPDFDOI

John Augustine, Gopal Pandurangan, Peter Robinson, Eli Upfal. Journal of Computer and System Sciences, Elsevier. (JCSS).

2013

- Search and Storage in Dynamic Peer-to-Peer NetworksPDFDOI

John Augustine, Anisur Molla, Ehab Morsy, Gopal Pandurangan, Peter Robinson, Eli Upfal. 25th ACM Symposium on Parallelism in Algorithms and Architectures (SPAA 2013).

AbstractWe study robust and efficient distributed algorithms for searching, storing, and maintaining data in dynamic Peer-to-Peer (P2P) networks. P2P networks are highly dynamic networks that experience heavy node churn (i.e., nodes join and leave the network continuously over time). Our goal is to guarantee, despite high node churn rate, that a large number of nodes in the network can store, retrieve, and maintain a large number of data items. Our main contributions are fast randomized distributed algorithms that guarantee the above with high probability even under high adversarial churn. In particular, we present the following main results: \begin{enumerate} \item A randomized distributed search algorithm that with high probability guarantees that searches from as many as $n - o(n)$ nodes ($n$ is the stable network size) succeed in ${O}(\log n )$-rounds despite ${O}(n/\log^{1+\delta} n)$ churn, for any small constant $\delta > 0$, per round. We assume that the churn is controlled by an oblivious adversary (that has complete knowledge and control of what nodes join and leave and at what time and has unlimited computational power, but is oblivious to the random choices made by the algorithm). \item A storage and maintenance algorithm that guarantees, with high probability, data items can be efficiently stored (with only $\Theta(\log{n})$ copies of each data item) and maintained in a dynamic P2P network with churn rate up to ${O}(n/\log^{1+\delta} n)$ per round. Our search algorithm together with our storage and maintenance algorithm guarantees that as many as $n - o(n)$ nodes can efficiently store, maintain, and search even under ${O}(n/\log^{1+\delta} n)$ churn per round. Our algorithms require only polylogarithmic in $n$ bits to be processed and sent (per round) by each node. \end{enumerate} To the best of our knowledge, our algorithms are the first-known, fully-distributed storage and search algorithms that provably work under highly dynamic settings (i.e., high churn rates per step). Furthermore, they are localized (i.e., do not require any global topological knowledge) and scalable. A technical contribution of this paper, which may be of independent interest, is showing how random walks can be provably used to derive scalable distributed algorithms in dynamic networks with adversarial node churn.

2012

- Towards Robust and Efficient Computation in Dynamic Peer-to-Peer NetworksPDFDOI

John Augustine, Gopal Pandurangan, Peter Robinson, Eli Upfal. 23rd ACM-SIAM Symposium on Discrete Algorithms (SODA 2012).

AbstractMotivated by the need for robust and fast distributed computation in highly dynamic Peer-to-Peer (P2P) networks, we study algorithms for the fundamental distributed agreement problem. P2P networks are highly dynamic networks that experience heavy node churn (i.e., nodes join and leave the network continuously over time). Our goal is to design fast algorithms (running in a small number of rounds) that guarantee, despite high node churn rate, that almost all nodes reach a stable agreement. Our main contributions are randomized distributed algorithms that guarantee stable almost-everywhere agreement with high probability even under high adversarial churn in a polylogarithmic number of rounds. In particular, we present the following results: \begin{enumerate} \item An $O(\log^2 n)$-round ($n$ is the stable network size) randomized algorithm that achieves almost-everywhere agreement with high probability under up to linear churn per round (i.e., $\epsilon n$, for some small constant $\epsilon > 0$), assuming that the churn is controlled by an oblivious adversary (that has complete knowledge and control of what nodes join and leave and at what time and has unlimited computational power, but is oblivious to the random choices made by the algorithm). \item An $O(\log m\log^3 n)$-round randomized algorithm that achieves almost-everywhere agreement with high probability under up to $\epsilon \sqrt{n}$ churn per round (for some small $\epsilon > 0$), where $m$ is the size of the input value domain, that works even under an adaptive adversary (that also knows the past random choices made by the algorithm). \item We also show that no deterministic algorithm can guarantee almost-everywhere agreement (regardless of the number of rounds), even under constant churn rate. \end{enumerate} Our algorithms are the first-known, fully-distributed, agreement algorithms that work under highly dynamic settings (i.e., high churn rates per step). Furthermore, they are localized (i.e., do not require any global topological knowledge), simple, and easy to implement. These algorithms can serve as building blocks for implementing other non-trivial distributed computing tasks in dynamic P2P networks.

## Code

I'm interested in parallel and distributed programming and related technologies such as software transactional memory and the actor-model. Recently, I have been working on implementing a simulation environment for distributed algorithms in Elixir/Erlang, and implementing non-blocking data structures in Haskell suitable for multi-core machines. Below is a (non-comprehensive) list of software that I have written.

- concurrent hash table: a thread-safe hash table that scales to multicores.
- data dispersal: an implementation of an (m,n)-threshold information dispersal scheme that is space-optimal.
- secret sharing: an implementation of a secret sharing scheme that provides information-theoretic security.
- tskiplist: a data structure with range-query support for software transactional memory.
- stm-io-hooks: An extension of Haskell's Software Transactional Memory (STM) monad with commit and retry IO hooks.
- Mathgenealogy: Visualize your (academic) genealogy! A program for extracting data from the Mathematics Genealogy project.
- I extended Haskell's Cabal, for using a "world" file to keep track of installed packages. (Now part of the main distribution.)

## Teaching

- Computer Networks, Fall 2020, 2019.
- Database Systems, Spring 2020.
- Distributed Computing, Spring 2019.
- Randomized Algorithms, Fall 2018: Intro slides. Part 1 on Concentration Bounds.
- Advanced Distributed Systems, Fall 2016, 2017.
- Computation with Data, Fall 2016.
- Internet and Web Technologies, Spring 2016.

## Misc

- Google scholar profile
- My profile on StackExchange