Overlay Networks: An Old-New Communication Paradigm for the Coming Decade

Yair Amir, Johns Hopkins University

This seminar was cancelled.

The Internet presents compelling reach, cost and capacity properties that drive more and more forms of communication to use it as their network of choice. These properties stem from a few core design principles underlying the Internet such as packet switching and routing, end-to-end reliability, and addressing.

New applications bring new demands: High performance reliability for large file transfers; low latency interactivity for VoIP calls; point-to-multipoint reliable transport and delivery for live TV; many-to-many timely multicast for interactive games; “perfect” reliability and timeliness for remote surgery.

This talk surveys a personal journey in search of the “right” communication paradigm addressing the above (and future) applications, and the overlay network architecture that was developed along the way. An overlay network is a network that is built over an underlying network such as the Internet: To the underlying network it looks like an application, while to the application it looks like the network. The talk demonstrates how overlay networks provide better performance for some native Internet services, as well as enable new protocols and services beyond those that can be provided by the Internet.

For this Inaugural Professorial Lecture, the speaker will allow himself to make some predictions about future communication architectures and trends, and the research challenges they bring.

Speaker Biography

Dr. Yair Amir is a Professor of Computer Science at Johns Hopkins University, where he serves on the faculty since 1995. Dr. Amir holds a B.Sc. (1985) and M.Sc. (1990) from the Technion, Israel Institute of Technology, and a Ph.D. (1995) from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel. Prior to his Ph.D., he gained extensive experience building C3I systems. Dr. Amir’s research goal is to understand and solve the challenges, invent architectures and protocols, and construct software toolkits, that enable high performance, robust, secure and survivable distributed systems. He is a creator of the Spread group communication toolkit (www.spread.org), which is used in thousands of installations around the world in commercial, academic and government settings. He led Secure Spread, developing the first robust key agreement protocols, as well as the Spines overlay network platform (www.spines.org) and the SMesh wireless mesh network (www.smesh.org), the first seamless 802.11 mesh with fast, lossless handoff. Dr. Amir served on various technical program committees including the IEEE International Conference on Distributed Computing Systems, the International Conference on Dependable Systems and Networks, and the ACM Symposium on Principles of Distributed Computing. He currently serves as an Associate Editor for the IEEE Transactions on Dependable and Secure Computing. Over the years, Dr. Amir’s academic research was funded by DARPA, NSF, NASA, and the NSA. He currently serves as Chief Science Officer of LiveTimeNet Inc., constructing a scalable, overlay-based transport and delivery service for live TV.