Understanding the Internet

Understanding the Internet

by Allen B. Downey

I gave a talk recently that tries to present the technology underlying the Internet for a general audience. It also includes a short description of some research projects I have worked on.

The slides I presented are here in gzipped Postscript and PDF.


The Internet is an engineered artifact, so it is natural to interpret its design in terms of goals and constraints, problems and solutions. At the same time, the Internet has grown in ways that were unplanned, producing effects that were unforeseen. To understand these effects, we have to approach the Internet as a found object, using the tools of the empirical sciences.

In this talk, I will explore these complementary approaches first by analyzing the layers of abstraction that underlie current networks and then by presenting recent discoveries of emergent properties in the Internet.