Michel Raynal - What is Informatics? What is distributed computing about?

Organisé par : 
L'équipe Keynote du LIG : Frédéric Prost, Renaud Lachaize, Dominique Vaufreydaz
Intervenant : 
Michel Raynal - Université de Rennes / IRISA ; Institut Universitaire de France (IUF) ; Polytechnic University (PolyU) of Hong Kong

Compte tenu du contexte sanitaire, l'exposé sera accessible en présentiel dans l'auditorium IMAG (capacité d'accueil limitée) et diffusé en ligne en direct.


Despite the current health context, people will be able to attend the presentation in the IMAG auditorium. However, the occupancy of the latter will be reduced. The conference will also be broadcast live online



Michel Raynal is an Emeritus Professor of Informatics, IRISA, University of Rennes,France.His research interests are the basic principles of distributed computing systems. Recognized as a world leading researcher in distributed computing, he is the author of numerous papers on this topic (more than 170 articles in int'l scientific journals, and more than 330 papers in int'l conferences). He is also well-known for his books on distributed computing. Michel Raynal is a senior member of the prestigious "Institut Universitaire de France", and a member of Academia Europaea. He was the recipient of the 2015 "Innovation in Distributed Computing Award" (also known as SIROCCO Prize), and recipient of the 2018 "IEEE Outstanding Technical Achievement in Distributed Computing Award". He also received an "Outstanding Career Award" from the French chapter of ACM Sigops. Michel Raynal is also "Distinguished Chair Professor on Distributed Algorithms" at the Polytechnic University (PolyU) of Hong Kong.

Michel Raynal chaired the program committee of the major conferences on distributed computing (e.g., ICDCS, DISC, SIROCCO, OPODIS, ICDCN, etc.), and has been member (or head) of their steering committees. He served on the program committees of more than 200 int'l conferences including all the most prestigious ones. He is the recipient of several "Best Paper" awards of major conferences (including ICDCS 1999, 2000 and 2001, SSS 2009 and 2011, Europar 2010, DISC 2010, PODC 2014). He supervised more than 45 PhD students, and gave lectures on distributed computing in many universities all over the world. Michel Raynal has written 12 books on fault-tolerant concurrent and distributed systems, among which the following trilogy "Concurrent Programming: Algorithms, Principles and Foundations", Springer, 515 pages, 2013 (ISBN 978-3-642-32026-2) "Distributed Algorithms for Message-passing Systems", Springer, 510 pages, 2013 (ISBN: 978-3-642-32026-2), and "Fault-Tolerant Message-Passing Distributed Systems: An Algorithmic Approach" Springer, 459 pages, 2018 (ISBN: 978-3-319-94140-0). 

Adopting a historical perspective the talk will first question the nature of informatics whose domain (as in mathematics, physics, or chemistry) must be well identified. Then, the talk will focus on the nature of distributed computing. As an example of important questions (among many others)  there is the following: are distributed computing  and parallel computing close topics, or do they address distinct areas?  A main part of the talk will show that a main issue of  distributed computing lies in mastering the non-determinism generated  by the environment (unpredictable asynchrony and possible failures). Said differently, non-trivial distributed computing is characterized  by the fact that one of the inputs of a distributed  run is the  run itself.  The talk will also address the importance of specific structuring models (e.g., peer-to-peer versus  client server) and their impact on what can be done and what cannot be done in each of them.

(The talk will be given in French, with slides in English.)