Seminar - Future Internet Protocols, Consolidation and Decentralisation (2020)

There is a constant demand for the Internet to function better, not only in terms of performance, but also in terms of being more secure, scalable and highly reliable. Towards this end, new protocol design proposals are proposed across multiple layers of networking abstraction to allow the Internet to evolve to sustain these growing needs. Content Delivery Infrastructures play a leading role in enabling the deployment of such future Internet protocols. This unique position also leads to increasing consolidation of the Internet to a handful of large entities that become responsible for a majority of the Internet traffic. To overcome this tussle, there have been recent efforts to facilitate Internet decentralisation with the goal of giving control back to the users.

In this seminar, we will explore such recent efforts in protocol designs (network layer and above) and the qualitative benefits these proposals bring on top of existing Internet architecture. We will study the state of their deployment, the roadblocks that may hinder their adoption on the Internet and real-world evaluations that quantify the improvements with existing solutions. In particular, we will investigate the tradeoffs of consolidation of the Internet that this trend brings along with discussion of proposals that attempt to decentralise the Internet.


NOTE: The course will be held fully online this semester, see Moodle for further information.

Moodle page

To stay up to date with the latest course information, please refer to the Moodle course page.

Course requirements (recommended)

The participants should already be prepared by an undergraduate-level course on computer networks and networking protocols. Familiarity with networking tools used for performance evaluation and with network security may be beneficial, though not required.

Learning outcomes (study goals)

The topics covered in this seminar revolve around Internet protocols and architectures, rising considerations on Internet consolidation and efforts on decentralisation of the Web. The papers will give students the technical knowledge and understanding on the latest advancements in the field of emerging networking solutions. The participants will also learn how to critically read and discuss research papers. This will be achieved by reviewing papers individually, and actively participating in group discussions during the seminar presentations. Students will also have the opportunity to advance their soft skills through presentation. Presentations will involve learning to not only stay within time limits but also to appreciate the Q/A session at the end of the presentation.

Specifically, after the seminar, the student should be able to:

  • Understand the need for new Internet architectures and protocols and tradeoffs between consolidation and decentralisation.
  • Explain the technical details of the discussed proposals and architectures.
  • Discuss design principles and the performance of the presented solutions.
  • Understand the importance of (independent) peer reviews.
  • Present research in a concise way and within the allotted time (conference-style settings). 

Further Reading

Teaching and learning methods

  1. Written paper reviews before the presentation (40% of final grade)
  2. Weekly presentations during the semester (50% of final grade)
  3. Group discussions (10% of final grade)

Participants are encouraged to refer to: Future Internet Protocols and Decentralized Internet Architectures for previous iterations of the seminar.

Each participant covers a topic area by presenting one relevant paper during the seminar. To ensure everybody has read the papers, the participants are required to hand in a review of the presented papers via HOTCRP following the provided review template. The answers to the review forms should be brief and concise. Refer to the Internet Measurement Conference (IMC) that made reviews for accepted papers public for the 2012 and 2013 programmes.

Paper allocations will be done on a best-effort basis, based on preferences (favorite 5 papers) solicited over email during the semester. A paper will be randomly assigned if no preference is sent. The first seminar course slot will be used to set the agenda for the seminar.