Amy Ousterhout

Hertz Fellow: Amy Ousterhout

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Area of Study

Networks and Distributed Systems

Fellowship Years

2013 - present

Amy Ousterhout is a graduate student at MIT, where she is pursuing a PhD in computer science. Her research interests focus on computer networks and distributed systems. She received her bachelor’s degree in computer science from Princeton University in 2013. As an undergraduate, she designed and implemented a mobile application that enables effective communication, even in the face of powerful censors capable of sabotaging all centralized infrastructure. Her work was motivated by the Egyptian government’s BGP attack during the Arab Spring in 2011, which temporarily disabled the Internet within Egypt. Amy’s system leverages trust relationships between users to improve data dissemination in the face of a denial-of-service attack, so that adversaries cannot easily disrupt communication.

At MIT, Amy’s research focuses on enabling programmability in datacenter networks. Researchers continuously develop new schemes for resource management in datacenters, which can lead to significant performance improvements for datacenter applications. However, deploying these schemes in practice requires modifications to hardware routers in the network, and developing new router chips typically takes years and can be prohibitively expensive. Amy’s research focuses on developing an all-software solution that allows users to express their schemes in software (e.g. C++) and then deploy them quickly and easily in real networks with real datacenter applications. The hope is that this will facilitate research and experimentation for developing new schemes, and will enable adoption of existing schemes.