Networks Capable of Change

Duke Computer Science Distinguished Lecture Series
Speaker Name
Jennifer Rexford
Date and Time
The talk will be virtual on Zoom.
The Zoom link will be emailed to the CS department, or contact Jennifer Schmidt (jschmidt at to request it.

The early designers of the Internet fostered tremendous innovation by leaving much of the network’s functionality to the programmable computers at its periphery. Unfortunately, the *inside* of the network has been much harder to change. Yet, changing the network is important to make the Internet more reliable, secure, performant, and cost-effective.  The networking research community has struggled for many years to make networks more programmable. What has worked, and what hasn't, and what lessons have we learned along the way? This talk offers my perspective on these questions, through a 25-year retrospective of research on programmable networks, focusing on my own research experiences as well as reflections on major trends in the field. The talk advocates a sort of “ambitious pragmatism” that approaches an ambitious long-term goal (a programmable network infrastructure) through smaller, pragmatic steps while keeping an eye on the prize.

Short Biography

Jennifer Rexford is the Gordon Y.S. Wu Professor of Engineering and the Chair of Computer Science at Princeton University. Before joining Princeton in 2005, she worked for eight years at AT&T Labs--Research. Jennifer received her BSE degree in electrical engineering from Princeton University in 1991, and her PhD degree in electrical engineering and computer science from the University of Michigan in 1996. Her research focuses on computer networking. She is co-author of the book "Web Protocols and Practice" (Addison-Wesley, 2001) and co-editor of the book "She's an Engineer? Princeton Alumnae Reflect" (Princeton University, 1993). Jennifer received the ACM Grace Murray Hopper Award for outstanding young computer professional, the ACM Athena Lecturer Award, the NCWIT Harrold and Notkin Research and Graduate Mentoring Award, the ACM SIGCOMM award for lifetime contributions, and the IEEE Internet Award. She is an ACM Fellow, an IEEE Fellow, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the National Academy of Sciences.

Xiaowei Yang