Computer Networks: Myths, Missteps, and Mysteries

Triangle Computer Science Distinguished Lecturer Series
Speaker Name
Radia Perlman
Date and Time
Talk will be broadcast live in D106. Snacks will be provided.

The only reason networks look like they do today is because of history. Nobody would have designed what exists today.  It just evolved.  This talk focuses on the role of IP and Ethernet in the Internet.  Why do we need both of them?  (The answer may surprise you).  Is IP the best possible network protocol?  In 1992, the proposal was to replace IP with CLNP (the comparable protocol to IP, but designed by ISO). Would this have been an incompatible change to the Internet, whereas converting to IPv6 will just be a simple upgrade to a new version of IP?  What is the difference between a “different protocol” and a “new version of the same protocol”? This talk will explore some of these mysteries.

Short Biography

Radia Perlman’s work has had a profound impact on how computer networks work today. It enables huge networks, like the Internet, to be robust, scalable, and largely self-managing. Her technology also transformed Ethernet from a technology that could support a few hundred nodes within a building, into a technology that could support networks of hundreds of thousands of nodes. She has also made important contributions in network security, including robustness despite malicious trusted participants, assured delete, key management for data at rest encryption, and DDOS defense.

She is currently a Fellow at Dell EMC, and has taught as adjunct faculty at MIT, Harvard, and University of Washington.  She wrote the textbook “Interconnections”, and co-wrote the textbook “Network Security”.  She holds over 100 issued patents. She has received numerous awards including induction into the Inventor Hall of Fame, lifetime achievement awards from ACM’s SIGCOMM and Usenix, election to National Academy of Engineering, induction into the Internet Hall of Fame, and an honorary doctorate from KTH. She has a PhD in Computer Science from MIT.

UNC - Donald Porter