Foundation Internet Papers

Here are some of what I consider to be the most important papers that describe the Internet and its architecture.
This is the great grandaddy of all Internet architecture papers. The "end-to-end principle" exposited here was fundamental to the Internet's success, yet some remain unconvinced. As with the theory of biological evolution, however, the holdouts are largely motivated by politics and financial self-interest, not reason.

Jerome H. Saltzer, David P. Reed, and David D. Clark.
End-to-End Arguments in System Design.
Second International Conference on Distributed Computing Systems (April, 1981) pages 509-512. Published with minor changes in ACM Transactions in Computer Systems 2, 4, November, 1984, pages 277-288. Reprinted in Craig Partridge, editor Innovations in internetworking. Artech House, Norwood, MA, 1988, pages 195-206. ISBN 0-89006-337-0. Also scheduled to be reprinted in Amit Bhargava, editor. Integrated broadband networks. Artech House, Boston, 1991. ISBN 0-89006-483-0.
Scribe/FinalWord source. In 1997, George Coulouris kindly ported the Scribe text into Portable Document Format (Acrobat), PostScript, Rich Text Format (RTF), and ASCII text.

Stuart Cheshire
Stuart's Law Of Networkdynamics

Back at Bellcore in the 1980s, I frequently tried to convince my colleagues that mandatory "service guarantees" in communication networks are a Very Bad Idea.

Many couldn't accept what seemed perfectly obvious to me: when network service guarantees are not needed -- and they rarely are in computer networking -- they merely reduce capacity, increase complexity and costs and decrease reliability with no corresponding benefit. Those who had spent their entire careers in the telephony industry -- developing Bell-shaped heads in the process -- found this very difficult to accept. Cheshire's paper eloquently makes these exact same points; I wish I had it back then.

Phil Karn
Last updated: 22 Aug 2002