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Job ID: 104970

Phd position: Design of reliable distributed systems for mobile computing (applications on drones)
ENAC Lab, National School of Civil Aviation, Toulouse, France

  • Mar. 23, 2018
  • May 13, 2018
  • Oct. 1, 2018
  • Graduate Student
  • Computer/Information Sciences
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PhD position: Design of reliable distributed systems for mobile computing on the Internet of Things (applications on fleet of drones/UAVs/IoT)

Keywords : Distributed system; distributed programming; replication; strong consistency; state management, edge/fog computing; software-defined networking (SDN)


The design of distributed systems has became increasingly important to provide reliable services with high availability. Most internet services rely on large amounts of resources of cloud-centric infrastructures to tolerate failures and enhance data availability to users. While such a cloud-centric design has been widely used to implement popular services, like video stores and social networking, this computing model alone is unlikely to fit well to emerging latency-critical applications on mobile platforms, particularly in an Internet of Things (IoT) scenario.

In a mobile IoT environment, such as a swarm of drones, the design of reliable distributed systems is challenging. Such systems are likely to require low-latency, concurrent message exchanges. In addition, they should cope with unstable, heterogeneous resources availability, eventually frequent network partitions and fast-changing data availability requirements. Regarding these challenges, cloud-centric solutions present several limitations including unpredictable round-trip latency and eventual performance bottleneck for communications between datacenters and swarms of edge IoT devices.

Suitable reliable distributed algorithms are therefore required in order to efficiently implement novel services on emerging IoT scenarios.

Proposed research

Data availability and fault tolerance of a reliable distributed system are commonly guaranteed by a replication protocol based on replicated state machine (RSM). Such a protocol implements a consensus algorithm, like Sequence Paxos and Raft, in order to provide strong consistency throughout distributed, replicated data. In fact, strongly consistent replication is key to efficient implementation of critical distributed systems’ building blocks, like distributed lock manager or transactional key-value store.

Strongly consistent replication has been extensively studied in datacenter infrastructures, hence the vast majority of existing reliable services based on this kind of replication are cloud centric. For instance, ZooKeeper and Chubby rely on strongly consistent replication to provide reliable lock service for large distributed systems. Similarly, globally distributed databases, like Google Spanner, use such a replication to support transactions throughout geo-distributed data.

Yet, strongly consistent replication is likely to be costly in dynamically changing network topologies of IoT. Currently, it constitutes an exciting and a promising, new topic of research. Thus, we propose to develop and experiment novel distributed algorithms to provide fairly efficient strongly consistent replication for mobile computing on IoT scenarios.

Requirements and application

In this research, we intend to explore both a fundamental and an applied aspect. In particular, we aim to run real experiments with fleet of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), commonly known as drones, in the UAV experimental flight facility of our campus.

Candidates to this position should hold a Master’s degree in Computer Science/Informatics or a related field by the starting date of the PhD. They must be excited by research in systems, distributed systems, distributed algorithms, databases, and/or programming languages, and should have an excellent academic record in one of these areas. Familiarity with machine learning and graph algorithms would be appreciated, but is not essential. Teamwork, communication skills and industrial experience is a plus.

Knowledge of French is not required.

To apply, please send the following information to :

* Curriculum Vitæ * Letter of motivation that should describe the applicant’s background in the areas of the project, reason for interest in the project, and future plans * A list of courses and grades of the last two years of study (an informal transcript is OK). * Names and contact details of at least two references (people who can recommend you), whom we will contact directly. * If relevant, a link to your publications and/or open-source developments.

Application deadline: 13 May 2018.

This PhD starts on 1 October 2018 and the duration of the fully-funded contract is 3 years.

About ENAC

The ENAC, National School of Civil Aviation, is located in Toulouse, France, the centre of the European aerospace industry. It offers an ideal working environment, where researchers can focus on developing new ideas, collaborations and projects.

The proposed research will be developed in the ENAC research laboratory, ENAC Lab. Our research topics include UAVs systems, aviation safety and security, sustainable transportation development, and aeronautical computer-human interactions. For further information, please consult our site

Please reference in your cover letter when
applying for or inquiring about this job announcement.

Contact Information

  • Guthemberg SILVESTRE
    ENAC Lab, National School of Civil Aviation, Toulouse, France
    Toulouse, Occitanie


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