Carnegie Mellon University

To support the technical development of a platform for archiving executable content and the environment in which it runs, as well as a plan for the institutionalization and ongoing sustainability of such an archive

  • Amount $400,000
  • City Pittsburgh, PA
  • Investigator Mahadev Satyanarayanan
  • Year 2012
  • Program Digital Technology
  • Sub-program Scholarly Communication

Reproducing computational research requires more than having access to lines of code or compiled software. Reproducibility often requires running computations on an identical processor, or using a now defunct operating system. But computer hardware and software become obsolete surprisingly quickly, making the replication of old computational environments difficult or impossible. The advent of cloud computing and virtualization technology has opened a promising opportunity to address this problem. A researcher could preserve not only data and the computational algorithms used to analyze it, but the entire computational environment in which his research was conducted. Future researchers could then use virtualization to precisely replicate that environment, whatever hardware changes the future brings. The power of virtualization makes it not implausible to envision a library of virtual machines simulating every physical computer across the history of computing. This grant supports a project led by Carnegie Mellon computer scientist Mahadev Satyanarayanan and university librarian Gloriana St. Clair to build just such a library, called the "Open Virtual Machine Image Library", known as Olive. Funds will support the technical development of the OLIVE platform, initiatives to reduce the resources required to run archived virtual machines, and the development of a business plan and long-term sustainability strategy.

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