Using Simple PID Controllers to Prevent and Mitigate Faults in Scientific Workflows

Presentation held at the 11th Workflows in Support of Large-Scale Science, 2016
Salt Lake City, UT, USA – SuperComputing’16

Abstract – Scientific workflows have become mainstream for conducting large-scale scientific research. As a result, many workflow applications and Workflow Management Systems (WMSs) have been developed as part of the cyberinfrastructure to allow scientists to execute their applications seamlessly on a range of distributed platforms. In spite of many success stories, a key challenge for running workflows in distributed systems is failure prediction, detection, and recovery. In this paper, we propose an approach to use control theory developed as part of autonomic computing to predict failures before they happen, and mitigated them when possible. The proposed approach applying the proportional-integral-derivative controller (PID controller) control loop mechanism, which is widely used in industrial control systems, to mitigate faults by adjusting the inputs of the controller. The PID controller aims at detecting the possibility of a fault far enough in advance so that an action can be performed to prevent it from happening. To demonstrate the feasibility of the approach, we tackle two common execution faults of the Big Data era—data storage overload and memory overflow. We define, implement, and evaluate simple PID controllers to autonomously manage data and memory usage of a bioinformatics workflow that consumes/produces over 4.4TB of data, and requires over 24TB of memory to run all tasks concurrently. Experimental results indicate that workflow executions may significantly benefit from PID controllers, in particular under online and unknown conditions. Simulation results show that nearly-optimal executions (slowdown of 1.01) can be attained when using our proposed method, and faults are detected and mitigated far in advance of their occurrence.


Related Publication

  • [PDF] R. Ferreira da Silva, R. Filgueira, E. Deelman, E. Pairo-Castineira, I. M. Overton, and M. Atkinson, “Using Simple PID Controllers to Prevent and Mitigate Faults in Scientific Workflows,” in 11th Workflows in Support of Large-Scale Science, 2016.
    author = {Ferreira da Silva, Rafael and Filgueira, Rosa and Deelman, Ewa and Pairo-Castineira, Erola and Overton, Ian Michael and Atkinson, Malcolm},
    title = {Using Simple PID Controllers to Prevent and Mitigate Faults in Scientific Workflows},
    year = {2016},
    booktitle = {11th Workflows in Support of Large-Scale Science},
    series = {WORKS'16},
    doi = {},
    pages = {}



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