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Context

Large distributed infrastructures are rampant in our society. Numerical simulations form the basis of computational sciences and high performance computing infrastructures have become scientific instruments with similar roles as those of test tubes or telescopes. Cloud infrastructures are used by companies in such an intense way that even the shortest outage quickly incurs the loss of several millions of dollars. But every citizen also relies on (and interacts with) such infrastructures via complex wireless mobile embedded devices whose nature is constantly evolving. In this way, the advent of digital miniaturization and interconnection has enabled our homes, power stations, cars and bikes to evolve into smart grids and smart transportation systems that should be optimized to fulfill societal expectations.

Our dependence and intense usage of such gigantic systems obviously leads to very high expectations in terms of performance. Indeed, we strive for low-cost and energy-efficient systems that seamlessly adapt to changing environments that can only be accessed through uncertain measurements. Such digital systems also have to take into account both the users' profile and expectations to efficiently and fairly share resources in an online way. Analyzing, designing and provisioning such systems has thus become a real challenge.

Such systems are characterized by their ever-growing size, intrinsic heterogeneity and distributedness, user-driven requirements, and an unpredictable variability that renders them essentially stochastic. In such contexts, many of the former design and analysis hypotheses (homogeneity, limited hierarchy, omniscient view, optimization carried out by a single entity, open-loop optimization, user outside of the picture) have become obsolete, which calls for radically new approaches. Properly studying such systems requires a drastic rethinking of fundamental aspects regarding the system's observation (measure, trace, methodology, design of experiments), analysis (modeling, simulation, trace analysis and visualization), and optimization (distributed, online, stochastic).