From the post:
Distributed programming frameworks like Hadoop and Dryad are popular for performing computation over large amounts of data. The reason is programmer convenience: they accept a query expressed in a simple form such as MapReduce, and automatically take care of distributing computation to multiple hosts, ensuring the data is available at all nodes that need it, and dealing with host failures and stragglers.
A major limitation of Hadoop and Dryad is that they are not well-suited to expressing iterative algorithms or dynamic programming problems. These are very commonly found patterns in many algorithms, such as k-means clustering, binomial options pricing or Smith Waterman for sequence alignment.
Over in the SRG in Cambridge, we developed a Turing-powerful distributed execution engine called CIEL that addresses this. The NSDI 2011 paper describes the system in detail, but here’s a shorter introduction.
The post gives an introduction to the OCaml API.
The CIEL Execution Engine description begins with:
CIEL consists of a master coordination server and workers installed on every host. The engine is job-oriented: a job consists of a graph of tasks which results in a deterministic output. CIEL tasks can run in any language and are started by the worker processes as needed. Data flows around the cluster in the form of references that are fed to tasks as dependencies. Tasks can publish their outputs either as concrete references if they can finish the work immediately or as a future reference. Additionally, tasks can dynamically spawn more tasks and delegate references to them, which makes the system Turing-powerful and suitable for iterative and dynamic programming problems where the task graph cannot be computed statically.
BTW, you can also have opaque references, which progress for a while, then stop.
Deeply interesting work.