The User in Experimental Computer Systems Research

Monday, June 11, 2007 - 4:10pm

SPEAKER: Peter Dinda (Northwestern University)
DATE: Monday, June 18, 2007
TIME: 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.


Experimental computer systems research typically ignores the end-user, modeling him, if at all, in overly simple ways. We argue that this (1) results in inadequate performance evaluation of the systems, and (2) ignores opportunities. We summarize our experiences with (a) directly evaluating user satisfaction and (b) incorporating user feedback in different areas of client/server computing, and use our experiences to motivate principles for that domain. Specifically, we report on user studies to measure user satisfaction with resource borrowing and with different clock frequencies in desktop computing, the development and evaluation of user interfaces to integrate user feedback into scheduling and clock frequency decisions in this context, and results in predicting user action and system response in a remote display system. We also present initial results on extending our work to user control of scheduling and mapping of virtual machines in a virtualization-based distributed computing environment. We then generalize (a) and (b) as recommendations for incorporating the user into experimental computer systems research.


Peter Dinda is an associate professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Northwestern University, and also affiliated with the Northwestern Institute on Complex Systems. He holds a B.S. in electrical and computer engineering from the University of Wisconsin and a Ph.D. in computer science from Carnegie Mellon University. His research has two main threads. The first thread is online measurement, modeling, and prediction of the dynamic behavior of resources, applications, and users. The second thread encompasses virtualization technologies, and, more specifically, their use in adaptive systems. Detailed information can be found on

HOST: Rich Wolski