Undergraduate Program

Darrell Anderson - Featured alumnus (2002 Newsletter)

Darrell Anderson graduated from UR in the first official undergraduate graduating class from the Computer Science Department in 1996. He was the first student to receive a B.S. (the luck of the alphabet!) and now has completed his Ph.D. from Duke this summer. He has the honor of being the first URCS official undergrad to receive a doctorate. He remembers his academic career at UR & Duke in his essay.

On my desk I keep an old, white ceramic coffee mug with a scratched and fading Meliora logo. I bought it in the spring of 1996 during my senior year, and the year that the University of Rochester officially recognized the Computer Science degree. I credit many of the URCS folks, in particular Michael Scott and then BCS grad student Jeff Pelz, for keeping me busy enough to get a lot of use from that mug, and for cultivating my interests to the point that I'd pursue them into graduate school. After Rochester, I brought my coffee mug to Duke University in sunny Durham, North Carolina. Here it has been a vessel for about a kilogram of caffeine over the course of my Ph.D. program. I should wash it before I hit the 2 kg mark. I've been working with Jeff Chase on my dissertation “Virtualized Network Storage." I could describe it in detail, but just in case you don't have drops handy for when your eyes glaze over, I'll just say the basic idea is to distribute a single-server network file system (Sun's NFS) across an ensemble of machines by rewriting and redirecting packets at the network level. This approach maintains compatibility with standard clients by preserving the appearance and failure semantics of a single server, but with vastly superior scaling properties. While academics demand a great deal, it's good to remember the world beyond the one we make for ourselves. When not staring at a screen I've been leading rock climbing trips for Duke Athletics, as well as pursuing the hobby on my own time with friends. To date I've participated in over a hundred trips across half a dozen states and three countries. This fall my last student ID will expire and I'll take my coffee mug to Mountain View, California where I am joining Google. At Duke I work with distributed systems comprising some tens of machines. Google uses 25,000 to host their service. I'm looking forward to the new playground.