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Butler W. Lampson

Microsoft Research New England

1 Memorial Drive
Cambridge, MA 02142

Phone: 857-453-6310
Fax: 425-706-7329

This web page is at as well as at


Here are a one-paragraph biography, a short biography and a CV (or as a single Word file here).

Here is a list of publications, with links to abstracts and text.

Here are brief descriptions of systems I have worked on. It is cross-referenced to the publications, and vice versa.


Here are links to the papers that people most often ask for:

Hints for Computer System Design. This is the 1983 paper.

Authentication in Distributed Systems: Theory and Practice.

Usable Security—How to Get It

Computer Security in the Real World.

Alto and Ethernet Software.

Designing a Global Name Service.

How to Build a Highly Available System Using Consensus.

SDSI: A Simple Distributed Security Infrastructure.

Principles of Computer Systems course at MIT.

The ABCDs of Paxos

Practical Principles for Computer Security

Here are links to slides for recent talks I’ve given. They are to abstracts, from which you can get to the slides in HTML, Acrobat, or Word and PowerPoint formats.

Hints and Principles for Computer System Design

Resilient Cyber Security and Privacy

Personal Control of Data

Retroactive Security

Perspectives on Security (SOSP 2015 history day talk)

Lazy and Speculative Execution

The Alto and Ethernet System: Xerox PARC in the 1970’s

Practical Principles for Computer Security

Gold and Fool’s Gold: Successes, Failures, and Futures in Computer Systems Research

Accountability and Freedom

Computer Systems Security—Lectures at TECS week, January 2005

Computer Security in the Real World

How Software Components Grew Up and Conquered the World

The ABCDs of Paxos

How to Build a Highly Available System Without a Toolkit

Interconnecting Computers

Understanding Network Connections

Principles for Computer System Design (my Turing lecture)

Formal Methods for Design: How To Understand Your System Before (Or After) You Build It

Here is the 2002 version of the tiretracks diagram that shows how computing research has spawned multi-billion dollar industries, in Acrobat or Word format. Here is the 2012 version (less detail, but more up to date) in Acrobat; this one was done by Peter Lee and his committee.


Here are some higher-resolution pictures: Description: BWL1998 Description: BWL2001 Description: BWL2004