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This paper introduces Impromptu Clusters (ICs), a new abstraction that makes it possible to leverage cloud-based clusters to execute short-lived parallel tasks, for example Internet services that use parallelism to deliver near-interactive responses. ICs are particularly relevant for resource-intensive web applications in areas such as bioinformatics, graphics rendering, computational finance, and search. In an IC, an application encapsulated inside a Virtual Machine (VM) is swiftly forked into multiple copies that execute on different physical hosts, and then disappear when the computation ends.
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