Advice for Part-Time Ph.D. Students (Notes)



A PDF of my dissertation is available for download. I received the degree in 2004, having started in January 2000. I was greatly helped by the fact that I went into the degree program with a substantial publication list. OK, OK, “substantial” for someone lacking a Ph.D. degree!


One of My Favorite Areas: RCU

Click here for an introduction to RCU, and here for more information.


RCU Turned Out to be Ripe for Further Funded Work

RCU did turn out to be ripe for further funded work, in fact, my major professor received an NSF grant in mid-2007 to formalize and generalize RCU and related synchronization methodologies. This grant has resulted in a couple of publications thus far:

  1. What is RCU, Fundamentally?
  2. Introducing technology into the Linux kernel: a case study.
  3. Scalable concurrent hash tables via relativistic programming.
  4. Why the grass may not be greener on the other side: a comparison of locking vs. transactional memory.


Publish as You Go

Following is a list of my RCU-related publications during my Ph.D. Almost all of these are articles and papers that I would have published in the course of my day job, with or without the Ph.D. program. Alignment, alignment, alignment!

  1. Making RCU Safe for Deep Sub-Millisecond Response Realtime Applications with Dipankar Sarma. June 2004 USENIX.
  2. RCU vs. Locking Performance on Different CPUs. January 2004
  3. Scaling dcache with RCU with Dipankar Sarma and Maneesh Soni. January 2004 Linux Journal.
  4. Using RCU in the Linux 2.5 Kernel. October 2003 Linux Journal.
  5. Using Read-Copy Update Techniques for System V IPC in the Linux 2.5 Kernel with Andrea Arcangeli and Mingming Cao. June 2003 USENIX.
  6. Enabling Autonomic Behavior in Systems Software With Hot Swapping with J. Appavoo, K. Hui, C. A. N. Soules, R. W. Wisniewski, D. M. Da Silva, O. Krieger, M. A. Auslander, D. J. Edelsohn, B. Gamsa, G. R. Ganger, M. Ostrowski, B. Rosenburg, M. Stumm, and J. Xenidis. January 2003 IBM Systems Journal.
  7. Read-Copy Update with Dipankar Sarma, Andrea Arcangeli, Andi Kleen, Orran Krieger, and Rusty Russell. June 2002 Ottawa Linux Symposium.
  8. Read-Copy Update with Jonathan Appavoo, Andi Kleen, Orran Krieger, Rusty Russell, Dipankar Sarma, and Maneesh Soni. July 2001 Ottawa Linux Symposium.

Many of these papers appeared in trade journals or open-source-community conferences rather than in prestigous academic conferences or journals. In my case, this was OK: I still got my timestamp. You will of course want to check with your committee to see if you face any restrictions on publication.