How should we describe and specify protocols? And how can we ensure that
network protocol specifications are consistent and correct, and that
implementations match the specification?
The IETF community has long used natural language to describe and specify
protocols, with occasional use of formal languages and some limited amount
of formal verification. In many ways this is clearly a successful approach.
After all, the Internet exists as an interoperable, global, multi-vendor,
network in large part due to the protocol standards the IETF develops. It
is clearly possible to build interoperable implementations from IETF
But is this the right approach to developing protocol specifications?
The way the IETF describes protocols has changed little over the years.
It may be time to consider whether new techniques have been developed that
might change how protocols are specified, and possibly improve the process.
With help from Chris Wood,
I organised a side meeting at
IETF 115 to discuss whether there could be benefits to more systematic
use of formal methods in the IETF, what are the factors limiting the
adoption of such techniques, and whether it would make sense to create
an IRTF research group to explore such
Welcome to Ivan Nikitin who
started as a PhD student this week. Ivan will be jointly advised by
me and Ornela Dardha,
and will be looking at how to make session types a practical design
tool for protocol standards.
I'm pleased to welcome
who recently joined my group as a Research Associate. Ryo will be working with
Jeremy Singer, and Paul Harvey,
on a Rakuten Mobile-funded project exploring the role of information-centric
networking for network management and other tasks.
To what extent is the technical development of the Internet driven by a
small clique of standards developers? What influence do those
developers have? And what control do large technology companies have on
the development of the technical standards that define the operation of
We attempted to answer these questions in a paper that
recently presented at the International Conference on
Web and Social Media (ICWSM).
In that paper,
we studied more than 2 million email messages, sent by
almost 45 thousand participants in the Internet
Engineering Task Force (IETF), over a twenty year period. The IETF
is one of the leading technical standards development organisations
relating to the Internet, and these discussions record the development
of key Internet standards – including the latest versions of the web
protocols, security standards, and widely used telephony, video
conferencing, and video streaming platforms – to understand the social
interactions and dynamics of the standards-setting process.
I'm pleased to welcome
who recently started as a PhD student supervised by me and
Jeremy Singer. Yuting is part-funded by Rakuten Mobile, and will
work on exploring the role of named data networking for content
distribution and edge computing.
Jeremy Singer and I are looking to appoint a postdoctoral research
associate, on a two-year contract, to develop new programming models,
run-time systems, and network support for edge compute.
The ACM/IRTF Applied Networking Research Workshop 2022 (ANRW’22),
co-located with IETF-114,
is the seventh edition of an academic workshop that provides a forum
for researchers, vendors, network operators, and the Internet standards
community to present and discuss emerging results in applied networking