Portrait of Richard Black

Richard Black

Principal Research Software Development Engineer


Richard is a Principal Research Software Development Engineer at Microsoft Research Cambridge, where he is part of the Systems and Networking group. His research interests include performance analysis of distributed systems, operating systems and networking.  Richard has also done some work on computer security mitigations, and he is currently particularly interested in data-centre scale storage.

Richard enjoys the mix of academic publishing and product impact which MSR provides. You can figure out the time-line of his particular mix from looking at the dates of his publications below.  One of his product contributions is the algorithms and protocols to enable the Network Map feature of Windows. Underlying the Network Map feature is the LLTD protocol which is licensed as part of the Windows Rally program.

Richard occasionally hosts interns, especially those excited by contributing to working prototypes; if you are interested please apply using the standard intern tool.

Richard did his Bachelor and Doctorate degrees at the University of Cambridge.  He started his career as a Research Fellow at the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory and then as faculty member at the University of Glasgow Department of Computing Science. He returned to Cambridge in January 2000, to join the Microsoft Research laboratory, initially as a Researcher, and from 2006 as Principal Research Software Development Engineer.


Rack-scale Computing

Established: January 1, 2013

  New hardware technology such as systems- and networks-on-chip (SOCs and NOCs), switchless network fabrics, silicon photonics, and RDMA, are redefining the landscape of data center computing, enabling interconnecting thousands of cores at high speed at the scale of today's racks. We refer to this new class of hardware as rack-scale computers (RSCs) because the rack is increasingly replacing the individual server as the basic building block of modern data centers. Early examples of RSCs…

Predictable Data Centers (PDC)

Established: September 1, 2010

Performance predictability is a key requirement for high-performant applications in today's multi-tenant datacenters. Online services running in infrastructure datacenters need such predictability to satisfy applications SLAs. Cloud datacenters require guaranteed performance to bound customer costs and spur adoption. However, the network and storage stack used in today’s datacenters is unaware of such application requirements. This projects examines how to enable preditable datacenters. Performance predictability is a key requirement for high-performant applications in today's multi-tenant data…


Established: August 27, 2009

Barrelfish is a new operating system being built from scratch in a collaboration between researchers at ETH Zurich and Microsoft Research, Cambridge. We are exploring how to structure an OS for future multi- and many-core systems. The motivation is two closely related hardware trends: first, the rapidly growing number of cores, which leads to scalability challenges, and second, the increasing diversity in computer hardware, requiring the OS to manage and exploit heterogeneous hardware resources. For…

Avalanche: File Swarming with Network Coding

Established: December 9, 2008

The code-named research project "Avalanche" studies how to enable a cost effective, internet scalable and very fast file distribution solution (e.g. for TV on-demand, patches, software distribution). Such an approach leverages desktop PCs to aid in the distribution process, relieving congested servers and network links from most of the traffic. Details Existing Peer-Assisted file delivery systems use swarming techniques to simultaneously obtain different pieces of a file from multiple nodes. One problem of such…










Discovering Dependencies for Network Management
Victor Bahl, Paul Barham, Richard Black, Ranveer Chandra, Moises Goldszmidt, Rebecca Isaacs, Srikanth Kandula, Lun Li, John MacCormick, Dave Maltz, Richard Mortier, Mike Wawrzoniak, Ming Zhang, in Workshop on Hot Topics in Networks (HotNets-V), Association for Computing Machinery, Inc., November 1, 2006, View abstract, Download PDF