Prospective Students

We are looking for highly-talented grad students who are passionate about distributed systems, algorithms, and networking. Our research spans the whole range: algorithms, theoretical analysis, system design, and AI/ML in the context of novel distributed systems. If interested,  please apply to our grad program and mention either me or the LIDS lab. 

Biography

Prof. Sitaraman is currently in the College of Information and Computer Sciences at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.  He is best known for his role in pioneering large distributed systems that currently deliver much of the world’s web, videos, applications, and online services. As a principal architect, he helped create the Akamai network, the world’s first major content delivery network (CDN). He retains a part-time role as Akamai’s Chief Consulting Scientist. 

Prof. Sitaraman’s research spans all aspects of Internet-scale distributed systems, including algorithms, architectures, performance, and energy efficiency. He directs the Laboratory for Internet-Scale Distributed Systems (LIDS), is a member of the  Theoretical Computer Science group, and is the founding director of the Informatics Program. He received a B.Tech. in electrical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras and a Ph.D. in computer science from Princeton University.


Select Honors

Research

  • Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), 2019. For contributions to content delivery networks, distributed systems, and scalable internet services.
  • Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), 2019. For contributions to content delivery, internet performance, and distributed systems.
  • Inaugural ACM SIGCOMM Networking Systems Award, 2018. For the Akamai Content Delivery Network (CDN)
  • Excellence in DASH Award (First Place), 2018. For our work on adaptive bitrate (ABR) algorithms that are now part of the MPEG-DASH video player reference standard and widely used in commercial video streaming.

Teaching

  • Distinguished Teaching Award (DTA), UMass, Amherst, 2020. University’s highest recognition for teaching. Four selected each year from across the university with 1450+ faculty. Third Computer Scientist to win the award since it was established in 1962.
  • College Outstanding Teacher Award (COTA), College of Natural Sciences, UMass, Amherst, 2014.  One among two chosen that year from the college that had 550 faculty in 13 departments and 2 schools.

Real-world Impact

Over the past two decades, our research has transformed the online experience of billions of internet users daily, whether they read the news, watch videos, shop online, use social networks, or interact with mobile applications.

1) Content Delivery. In the late 1990’s, we helped pioneer content delivery networks. The  Akamai network enabled web pages to download faster, and videos to start quickly and play at higher qualities without interruptions.  The Akamai network also incorporated a  cloud storage service and an edge computing service, early examples of both types of services. More than two decades later, CDNs now deliver a majority of the web, video, and application traffic on the Internet. The creation of the Akamai network also helped spawn the multi-billion-dollar CDN industry.

2) Video analytics. In 2000, we created one of the earliest distributed analytics services for measuring video delivery quality. Rather than use network-level metrics like packet loss and jitter, the service pioneered user-perceived metrics extracted from actual video players deployed around the world. Such metrics included time for the video to start up, effective bitrate of the video seen by the viewer, and rebuffer events where the video stalled. More than two decades later, similar methodology and metrics are widely used in academic research and in the video analytics industry.

3) Distributed Algorithms and Architectures. CDNs are among the largest distributed systems in the world with potentially quarter-a-million servers deployed in a 1000+ locations around the world. CDNs use sophisticated algorithms and architectures to provide scalable internet services. Examples of our research deployed in production systems include (i) a highly-scalable transport layer for streaming live video content that carried the largest online events of the day, such as the Super Bowl and World cup soccer, (ii) mechanisms for routing user requests to a proximal server, (iii) tools for provisioning caches in edge servers, and (iv) client-side algorithms for video bitrate adaptation.