[Moderator's note: the Secure Routing focus may be of interest to some
readers. --Perry]


            Announcing DIMACS 2007-2010 Special Focus on 
               Algorithmic Foundations of the Internet


The Internet has an ever-expanding role in our daily lives; yet, it is
arguably one of the most fragile components of our nation's critical
infrastructure. The Internet was designed as a research network
without the expectation that it would eventually be used for
everything from banking, commerce, and telecommunications to the
remote management of power networks. The scale and heterogeneity of
the Internet have far surpassed all expectations, and the Internet is
responding by showing signs of strain. Moreover, new applications
heighten the need for security and network management capabilities,
neither of which were major goals in the original design of Internet

DIMACS is hosting a 3-year special focus devoted to the study of
algorithms and protocols for large-scale networks. The focus is
scheduled to start in August 2007 and continue through July 2010. The
special focus aims to enhance our understanding of the limitations of
today's protocols, as well as the gains that new designs could
achieve. This is an emerging cross-disciplinary area that requires
expertise from several fields including networking, theory of
computing, computer and communications security, and game
theory. Research collaborations spanning these communities are crucial
to making progress on the most challenging problems, and enabling
these collaborations is a major goal of this special focus.

As the Internet continues to grow, more and more business-critical
functions rely on its availability. One can easily envision a future
in which the vast majority of communications traffic, including
telephone, television, radio, business data, and government data, will
rely on an Internet infrastructure that is available and secure. For
the Internet to meet these challenges, we need a much deeper
understanding of the properties of our existing protocols and the
fundamental tradeoffs that should guide the design of the future
Internet. Providing a strong algorithmic foundation for the Internet
is especially timely, as the research community embarks on an
ambitious rethinking of the Internet architecture.

There are many algorithms and protocols used in the Internet and its
applications. Some adequately serve their desired purposes, while
others need improvement. However, there is a disconnect between the
methodology and results of algorithms research and the methodology and
results used to guide the adoption of Internet protocol standards. On
the one hand, traditional distributed-algorithms research does not
adequately model the Internet's design goals, including autonomy,
scalability, and privacy. On the other hand, protocol-adoption
standards far too often rely on experimentation and testing by vendors
and select customers, not on formal analysis. Protocols are often
tweaked to add customer functionality without scrutinizing the
resulting behavior in worst-case situations or proving any kind of
correctness or security properties. Furthermore, these worst-case
situations occur more often than expected, due to both the sheer size
of the network and the fact that malicious agents can use security
flaws to take control of significant parts of the Internet.

This special focus seeks to bridge the gap between networking research
focused on the existing artifacts - the protocols and mechanisms
underlying today's Internet - and the new work that needs to be done
to lay a solid foundation for the design of a future
Internet. Research focusing on today's network emphasizes
characterization, primarily through measurement and prototyping, of
existing protocols and mechanisms, in order to improve our
understanding of the Internet and guide incremental changes to the
system. Although algorithmic models have played a role in this work,
the details of today's protocols and mechanisms often defy attempts to
impose rigorous models "after the fact." The future Internet needs to
be more secure, be easier to manage, and take greater advantage of new
underlying technologies, such as sensor networks, wireless networks,
and optical switching. This argues for the design of new protocols and
mechanisms with their key properties in mind from the outset. An
algorithmic mindset is an extremely important ingredient in this line
of research.

This special focus is guided by a deep understanding of the current
Internet but allows for the possibility of radical change where it is
warranted. The focus seeks to analyze and design protocols,
algorithms, and architectures for a future Internet that is based on
sound mathematical and computational foundations, ensuring
scalability, security, and manageability.

This special focus is particularly timely given NSF's and the
computing research community's interest in developing the protocols
and associated experimental infrastructure for the Internet's next
generation. A special focus on algorithmic foundations of the Internet
is especially timely in light of NSF's FIND (Future INternet Design)
and GENI (Global Environment for Network Innovations) initiatives. The
FIND program encourages the research community to take a clean
slate approach to the design of a future Internet, without the
constraints of backwards compatibility with the current
protocols. FIND provides a unique opportunity to create a new network
architecture built on a solid conceptual foundation. In addition,
deeper understanding of the limitations of the existing protocols and
of the fundamental trade-offs between different design goals can focus
researchers' attention on the most promising directions for a new
Internet architecture.

This special focus aims to facilitate research in this area through
the broad participation from both the networking and theoretical
computer science communities. In addition to encouraging
collaborations between the two communities, focus activities can
educate the participants and the larger community about the current
research challenges and known results in the two areas. The special
focus workshops and working groups target the "sweet spots" where the
crucial challenges for designing the future Internet (e.g., security,
network management, layer-2 technologies, and economic incentives)
have rich connections to algorithms research (e.g., cryptography,
formal analysis, game theory and mechanism design, and streaming

The research ideas enabled by this DIMACS activity can lead to new
protocols and architectures that can be evaluated on GENI. Focus
workshops are encouraged to include presentations on the GENI facility
in order to encourage experimentation on GENI and explore how to put
the key design principles of GENI such as virtualization on a strong
theoretical footing.

Opportunities to Participate

The Special Focus includes: 

 Workshops: A variety of workshops and mini-workshops are being planned, 

   Internet Tomography 
   Pervasive Networks, Systems and Applications 
   Internet Privacy 
   Wireless and Delay-Tolerant Networks 
   Data Structures and Algorithms for Large-Scale Networked Systems 
   Internet Economics and Game Theory 
   Adversarial and Non-Adversarial Online Algorithms and Mechanism Design for 
the Internet 
 Working Groups: Three interdisciplinary research working groups,
 one initiated during each year of the special focus, form the "spine" of the 
special focus: 

   Year 1: Secure Internet Routing 
   Year 2: Designing Networks for Manageability 
   Year 3: Data Structures and Algorithms for Network Data 

 Tutorial: The special focus begins with a tutorial on "Next Generation 
Networks" that 
 provides background knowledge to those who wish to participate in the special 
focus or 
 just get an introduction to some of the fundamental issues in the field. 

 Seminar Series: There will be a mix of research talks and practitioner 

 Visitor Programs: Applications for research and graduate student
 visits to the center are invited. Some funds are available for travel and 
local support. 

 Postdoctoral Positions: There is a possibility postdoctoral positions
 will be offered in this area. 

 Graduate Student Support: Funds are set aside for graduate students
 interested in attending workshops. Students interested in visiting
 DIMACS during the special focus are encouraged to apply to the special focus 

 Publication: We anticipate that a variety of publications, including 
AMS-DIMACS volumes,
 technical reports, abstracts and notes on the WWW, and DIMACS modules
 will result from the special focus. 

For more information :


   DIMACS Center/CoRE Building/4th Floor
   Rutgers University
   96 Frelinghuysen Road
   Piscataway, NJ 08854-8018
   (732) 445-5930 



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