In today’s Academic Minute, Dr. Edmund Yeh of Northeastern University explains how the structure of the Internet could be changed to improve efficiency.
Edmund Yeh is an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at Northeastern University. His research interests include future internet architecture, smart power grids, network science, and network information theory. He holds a Ph. D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Dr. Edmund Yeh – Internet Architecture
The Internet defines the modern information age. But the current architecture — called TCP/IP — is becoming outdated. This architecture was created in the 60s and 70s, but can be traced back to the invention of the telephone network, which was built to enable point-to-point conversations between geographically separated people. The current Internet follows this paradigm by focusing on point-to-point conversations between computing machines.
Today’s Internet applications, however, are primarily concerned with the distribution and collection of information content. Whether you’re reading a newspaper online, watching a YouTube video, or following a Twitter feed, it matters little which machines communicate with each other. What matters is that an information consumer can access content whenever, wherever, and on whichever device he prefers.
This mismatch between conversation-based Internet architecture and popular content-driven applications has led to several problems, including weak security, network congestion and difficulty handling mobile access. To solve these problems, a 10-institution team, consisting of academia and industry, is creating a revolutionary new Internet architecture called Named Data Networking or NDN, which focuses on information content. NDN replaces IP addresses with content names, which enable direct access to a specific chunk of data without forcing that chunk to be a part of a conversation.
Imagine you want to read today’s front page of the New York Times on your iPad. With NDN, your iPad sends out a packet expressing interest in data named newyorktimes/frontpage/today. The Internet then forwards this interest to a location that contains the front page. This could be the New York Times website, or, if your trusted neighbor has already downloaded an authenticated copy, you can simply retrieve it from the storage cache on his computer.
NDN architecture will reduce network congestion, increase mobile access and enhance Internet security. It will democratize the distribution of content, so that all Internet users become active information producers and consumers.