IRTF activities co-located with IETF 116 in Yokohama

3 April 2023

I’m at Narita airport, waiting for my flight home after the IETF 116 meeting in Yokohama last week. This was my first long haul trip since the start of the pandemic. It brings the reminder of jet lag and a different reality of travel, with vaccination certification entry QR codes, face masks, and a certain complexity that wasn't there before. And, for flights between Europe and Japan, the war in Ukraine forces a diversion around the southern border of Russia that adds several hours, and an extra stop in Seoul Incheon, to the journey. Still, Japan is always worth visiting. But what happened at the IETF?

Sushi in Japan

At the meeting, we had two successful new activities in the IRTF. The first was the inaugural meeting of the new Usable Formal Methods Proposed Research Group. I’ve been working to raise interest in this topic for some months now, with a special session during the ANRW 2022 and a side meeting at IETF 115 in London, and with the potential chairs since then to get the resulting RG off the ground. After all that, it was great to see such an excellent first meeting, with a great introduction to the benefits and limitations of formal methods for protocol design, especially relating to security protocols, and some good discussion of the challenges inherent in these techniques.

Jonathan Hoyland introducing the goals of the usable formal methods RG

The second new activity was the Research and Analysis of Standards-setting Processes Proposed Research Group. This builds on some of our prior research, and the related BigBang project, and tries to bring them together with the broader community that attended the IAB Workshop on Analysing of IETF Data 2021. Corinne Cath gave a great talk on using ethnography to study power and politics in the IETF, Stephen McQuistin discussed tooling to recommend reviewers for Internet-drafts, and Sebastian Benthall, Priyanka Sinha, and 'Effy' Xue Li gave nice focussed talks on IETF data analysis methodologies. The group is already planning to join forces on future code releases.

Also in the IRTF:

The IRTF activities took much of my time during the week, so I could only join a limited number of IETF working group meetings. I was pleased, though, to see our Multiplexing Scheme Updates for QUIC approved for publication as a Proposed Standard RFC – thanks go to Bernard Aboba for driving this to completion – and to see the transport services framework drafts (architecture, interface, and implementation) go to IETF last call.