Internet Innovation Is RAD

The Internet makes communication and collaboration a snap, enabling individuals to publish and share their ideas widely and almost instantaneously. So why is the development of Internet applications such a slow, cumbersome process? Answer: The traditional "waterfall" model for software engineering, with its multi-staged process that often involves huge development staffs, is no match for the fast-paced Internet era. The recently established Reliable, Adaptive, and Distributed systems laboratory, or RAD Lab at UC Berkeley aims to change all that, invoking processes like statistical machine learning-the same technology used in autonomous vehicles-to enable much faster development by small groups and individual entrepreneurs. The lab's research is being funded for five years with $7.5 million from Google, Sun Microsystems, and Microsoft.

RAD Lab researchers will focus on alternatives to traditional software engineering, to help achieve their broader goals of revolutionizing Internet services technology and enabling the innovation of new services. "Right now, it takes a large company employing hundreds of really smart people to support Internet services," says David Patterson, UC Berkeley professor of electrical engineering and computer sciences and founding director of the RAD Lab. "Our goal with this center is to develop technology that eliminates the need for such a large organization, opening up innovation opportunities for small groups or even individual entrepreneurs."

Other UC Berkeley faculty co-founding the RAD Lab with Patterson are Michael Jordan, Randy Katz, Scott Shenker, and Ion Stoica. Armando Fox, a professor from Stanford University (CA), is also among the co-founders, and is planning to join UC Berkeley this summer. The RAD Lab will begin with the six faculty co-founders and 10 graduate students in computer science, and will boost the number of participating graduate students towards 30 over time.

Sun Microsystems, Microsoft, and Google, each donating an average of $500,000 per year to the lab, are considered foundation members. Several other smaller contributions are expected from other companies-for a total expected industry contribution of 80 percent of the RAD Lab's funding. In a departure from the more typical lion's share of government funding, only the remaining 20 percent funding will be made up of grants from the National Science Foundation and the UC Discovery and the Micr'electronics Innovation and Computer Research Opportunities (MICRO) programs.

In true Berkeley style, the Internet research laboratory plans to make the software and applications that emerge from the RAD Lab freely and openly available to the public, including source code distributed with a Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD) license.

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