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The causes of performance changes in a distributed system often elude even its developers. This paper develops a new technique for gaining insight into such changes: comparing request flows from two executions (e.g., of two system versions or time periods). Building on end-to-end request-flow tracing within and across components, algorithms are described for identifying and ranking changes in the flow and/or timing of request processing. The implementation of these algorithms in a tool called Spectroscope is evaluated.
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