Monday, August 1, 2016

Writing the abstract for systems papers

(Last update: 17 January 2023)

Writing an abstract for systems papers is easy if you know what to put in it. Begin the abstract with "This paper presents the design, implementation, and evaluation of ..", then add the following.

1. Catchy title for the system. (acronym, one word)
2. General description of the system and how it addresses a problem in a particular area. (two sentences)
3. Features/contributions that are unique or novel on the system. (three or more sentences)
4. Performance evaluation results. (two sentences)

Here's an example from this paper:
This paper presents the design and implementation of MemPipe, a dynamic shared memory management system for high performance network I/O among virtual machines (VMs) located on the same host. MemPipe delivers efficient inter-VM communication with three unique features. First, MemPipe employs an inter-VM shared memory pipe to enable high throughput data delivery for both TCP and UDP workloads among co-located VMs. Second, instead of static allocation of shared memories, MemPipe manages its shared memory pipes through a demand driven and proportional memory allocation mechanism, which can dynamically enlarge or shrink the shared memory pipes based on the demand of the workloads in each VM. Third but not the least, MemPipe employs a number of optimizations, such as time-window based streaming partitions and socket buffer redirection, to further optimize its performance. Extensive experiments show that MemPipe improves the throughput of conventional (native) inter VM communication by up to 45 times, reduces the latency by up to 62%, and achieves up to 91% shared memory utilization.

The goal of the abstract is to help the readers decide whether to continue reading the rest of the paper or not. Do your readers a favor by not wasting their time. Present what you have upfront in the abstract.