I'm an Assistant Professor (UK Lecturer) at Royal Holloway, University of London. I'm interested in designing new distributed and parallel algorithms, the distributed processing of big data, achieving fault-tolerance in networks, and secure distributed computing in dynamic environments such as peer-to-peer networks and mobile ad-hoc networks.

News

Publications

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).
    Abstract
    Motivated 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.
  • Fast Byzantine Leader Election in Dynamic Networks
    John Augustine, Gopal Pandurangan, Peter Robinson. 29th International Symposium on Distributed Computing (DISC 2015).
    Abstract
    Motivated by robust, secure, and efficient distributed computation in Peer-to-Peer (P2P) networks, we study fundamental Byzantine problems in dynamic networks where the topology can change from round to round and nodes can also experience heavy churn (i.e., nodes can join and leave the network continuously over time). We assume the full information model where the Byzantine nodes have complete knowledge about the entire state of network at every round (including random choices made by all the nodes), have unbounded computational power and can deviate arbitrarily from the protocol. The churn is controlled by an adversary that has complete knowledge and control of what nodes join and leave and at what time and also may rewire the topology in every round and has unlimited computational power, but is oblivious to the random choices made by the algorithm. Byzantine protocols for fundamental distributed computing problems such as agreement and leader election have been studied extensively for the last three decades in static networks; however, these solutions do not work in dynamic networks which characterize many real-world networks such as P2P networks. Our main contribution is an $O(\log^3 n)$ round algorithm that achieves Byzantine leader election under the presence of up to $O({n}^{1/2 - \epsilon})$ Byzantine nodes (for a small constant $\epsilon > 0$) and a churn of up to $O(\sqrt{n}/\text{poly}\log(n))$ nodes per round (where $n$ is the stable network size). The algorithm elects a leader with probability at least $1-n^{-\Omega(1)}$ and guarantees that it is an honest node with probability at least $1-n^{-\Omega(1)}$; assuming the algorithm succeeds, the leader's identity will be known to a $1-o(1)$ fraction of the honest nodes. Our algorithm is fully-distributed, localized (does not require any global knowledge), lightweight, and is simple to implement. It is also scalable, as it runs in polylogarithmic time and requires nodes to send and receive messages of only polylogarithmic size per round. To the best of our knowledge, our algorithm is the first scalable solution for Byzantine leader election in a dynamic network with a high rate of churn; our protocol can also be used to solve Byzantine agreement in a straightforward way. We also show how to implement an (almost-everywhere) public coin with constant bias in a dynamic network with Byzantine nodes and provide a mechanism for enabling honest nodes to store information reliably in the network, which might be of independent interest. In decentralized and dynamic P2P systems where a substantial part of the network may be controlled by malicious nodes, the presented algorithm and techniques can serve as building blocks for designing robust and secure distributed protocols.
2014
  • 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
  • Fast Byzantine Agreement in Dynamic NetworksPDFDOI
    John Augustine, Gopal Pandurangan, Peter Robinson 32nd ACM Symposium on Principles of Distributed Computing (PODC 2013).
    Abstract
    We study Byzantine agreement in dynamic networks where topology can change from round to round and nodes can also experience heavy churn (i.e., nodes can join and leave the network continuously over time). Our main contributions are randomized distributed algorithms that guarantee almost-everywhere Byzantine agreement with high probability even under a large number of Byzantine nodes and continuous adversarial churn in a number of rounds that is polylogarithmic in $n$ (where $n$ is the stable network size). We show that our algorithms are essentially optimal (up to polylogarithmic factors) with respect to the amount of Byzantine nodes and churn rate that they can tolerate by showing lower bound. In particular, we present the following results: \begin{enumerate} \item An $O(\log^3 n)$ round randomized algorithm that achieves almost-everywhere Byzantine agreement with high probability under a presence of up to $O(\sqrt{n}/\text{polylog}(n))$ Byzantine nodes and up to a churn of $O(\sqrt{n}/\text{polylog}(n))$ nodes per round. We assume that the Byzantine nodes have knowledge about the entire state of network at every round (including random choices made by all the nodes) and can behave arbitrarily. We also assume that an adversary controls the churn --- it 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 topology changes from round to round). Our algorithm requires only polylogarithmic in $n$ bits to be processed and sent (per round) by each node. \item We also present an $O(\log^3 n)$ round randomized algorithm that has same guarantees as the above algorithm, but works even when the churn and network topology is controlled by an adaptive adversary (that can choose the topology based on the current states of the nodes). However, this algorithm requires up to polynomial in $n$ bits to be processed and sent (per round) by each node. \item We show that the above bounds are essentially the best possible, if one wants fast (i.e., polylogarithmic run time) algorithms, by showing that any (randomized) algorithm to achieve agreement in a dynamic network controlled by an adversary that can churn up to $\Theta(\sqrt{ n \log n})$ nodes per round should take at least a polynomial number of rounds. \end{enumerate} Our algorithms are the first-known, fully-distributed, Byzantine agreement algorithms in highly dynamic networks. We view our results as a step towards understanding the possibilities and limitations of highly dynamic networks that are subject to malicious behavior by a large number of nodes.

Code

I'm interested in parallel and distributed programming and related technologies such as software transactional memory. Below is a (non-comprehensive) list of software that I have written.
  • I extended Haskell's Cabal, for using a "world" file to keep track of installed packages. (Now part of the main distribution.)
  • 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.
  • In my master thesis I developed a system for automatically constructing events out of log files produced by various system programs. One of the core components of my work was a part-of-speech (POS) tagger, which assigns word classes (e.g. noun, verb) to the previously parsed tokens of the log file. To cope with noisy input data, I modeled the POS tagger as a hidden Markov model. I developed (and proved the correctness of) a variant of the maximum likelihood estimation algorithm for training the Markov model and smoothing the state transition distributions.

Misc

  • On program committee of: PODC 2018, BGP 2017, ICDCN 2016, SPAA 2016, SIROCCO 2016, ICDCN 2015, SIROCCO 2014, FOMC 2014.
  • DBLP entry (Shows a subset of my publications.)
  • Google scholar profile
  • My profile on StackExchange