CSAIL Publications and Digital Archive header
bullet Research Abstracts Home bullet CSAIL Digital Archive bullet Research Activities bullet CSAIL Home bullet

link to publications.csail.mit.edu link to www.csail.mit.edu horizontal line


Research Abstracts - 2007
horizontal line

horizontal line

vertical line
vertical line

Future Internet Design (FIND) at CSAIL

David D. Clark


While the Internet of today, initially conceived over 30 years ago, has been stunningly successful, it also has a number of major limitations. It has persistent security problems, which many years of effort have not mitigated. Its industrial structure raises issues of investment and innovation, and the current plans of the service providers threaten the core architecture that is the basis of its success. The current Internet may not be suited for the computing environment of 10 years from now, which will not be PCs and servers but embedded processors, sensors and actuators. Issues such as these suggest that there is value in re-examining the Internet, not to change what it does but how it does it.


The Advanced Network Architecture group has, for several years, been concerned with the question of how a future Internet might be structured. In the recent past, the ANA group was part of a DARPA-funded project called NewArch, which was a multi-site collaboration to consider what an Internet of tomorrow might be if we could design it from scratch today knowing what we now know. This project, while intellectually successful, (see the project final report for a summary), did not result in an actual design for a new Internet. More recently, the National Science Foundation has put forward an ambitious research agenda: a challenge to the research community to envision what a global network of 10 or 15 years from now should be, and to propose the research that would get us there. This program will involve research teams from a number of universities, and will have the goal of generating coherent, integrated architectural proposals for a new Internet. We have been involved in the shaping of this program, and I currently have an agreement with the NSF to act as Architecture and Outreach Coordinator for the project, helping to bring intellectual coherence to the work being done on by the various funded institutions across the U.S.

Approach to the research

The key to the successful redesign of the Internet is not technological innovation, but the realization that the Internet is shaped today by social, economic and policy forces. By recognizing this reality and responding to it, we can increase the utility and relevance of a future Internet, and improve the chances that our enhancements will be adapted. But most technologists are not trained to model these forces, or to design systems that respond to them. Our work thus begins with a multi-discipline conversation about design in a social space, with the goal of finding suitable design principles. It turns out that many parts of the Internet have been designed with features that respond to these issues, but the process of design has been intuitive, and often times both the goal and the response are not explicitly articulated. As a part of our work, we are attempting to develop explicit design tools to shape the economic and social experience on the Internet.


We are now in the second year of NSF funding for this project. The results of the first yeard include a study of social design principles, a summary of requirements for a future Internet, with an emphasis on security, manageability and economic viability, an initial catalog of new design approaches in these areas, and a number of talks for NSF as part of the launch of their new initiative. We have also participated in the development of a plan for a major NSF program to develop and deploy an experimental infrastructure to allow the testing and deployment of the results from the FIND research, a program called GENI. This work continues, and more effort is now going into the planning for cross-institution collaboration meetings.

Anyone interested in the FIND project is encouraged to look at the FIND web site at www.nets-find.net.

Research Support

This research is supported by the National Science Foundation, and by the industrial partners of the MIT Communications Futures Program.

vertical line
vertical line
horizontal line

MIT logo Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL)
The Stata Center, Building 32 - 32 Vassar Street - Cambridge, MA 02139 - USA
tel:+1-617-253-0073 - publications@csail.mit.edu