Contributions to the theory and practice of distributed computing
(1980s & 1990s)
Washington University has a long track record of fundamental contributions to the theory of distributed computing. Our accomplishments include development of formal methods enabling precise reasoning about the correctness of distributed algorithms, and the application of those methods to the design of well-engineered software applications. We also led in developing the fundamental theory underlying the construction of provably correct asynchronous circuits and more generally of delay-insensitive systems of all types.
The theoretical developments have been used to drive the creation of substantial research software systems, which have in turn been used to develop real distributed applications based on the theoretical models. Formal models have also been instrumental in the development of pioneering software systems for visual languages and visualization. In the 1990s, Washington University researchers were in the forefront of research into distributed object technology. The resulting distributed object middleware (ACE and TAO) is used by companies all over the world in a wide range of sophisticated applications, including satellite communication systems, wireless telephony and military avionics. Finally, significant inroads have been made towards the development of models and middleware supporting novel applications in mobile wireless networks.